By Cara Pattison
After serving the past year as the 2022-23 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Queen, Jayden Mason is preparing to hand her crown to a new royal matriarch that will be announced on Oct. 7 at the Oklahoma Czech Festival in Yukon.
While she admits that it’s been the honor of a lifetime to wear the crown, she also admits that it is bittersweet to end her busy reign.
“I’ve been involved with the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers since I was nine years-old,” she said. “Someone told me about competing in the pageants back then, and my mom, Jamie Mason, helped me get enrolled. She ran for junior queen when she was in her teens, so had an idea of what was needed to participate.”
The 19-year-old Stillwater native was the first candidate in history to hold all three available crowns. Mason served as the princess in 2013-14, the junior queen in 2018-19 and queen in 2022-23
Three years of her life have been dedicated to characterizing Oklahoma Czech royalty on the local and national stages.
“Over the years, it’s been so amazing to represent the organization at tons of parades across the state, dance at events at Czech Hall, speak to elementary school kids about my Czech heritage, and perform volunteer work,” she said.
“Ten years later, I’m handing off my final crown and I have to say that it’s the people I’m going to miss the most.”
During their reign as Oklahoma Czech royalty, Queen Jayden and her court – Princess London Lippencott of Mustang, Prince Rex Gering of Oklahoma City and Junior Queen Hannah Thomason of Yukon – flew to Nebraska to compete in the National Czech Royalty competition. While there, she competed against all other state Czech Slovak Queens.
“It’s a similar process as the pageant in Yukon,” Mason said. “I interviewed with a judges panel, performed kroj modeling, answered on-stage questions with the judges, and performed a talent. My talent is that I sang the Czech and Slovak national anthems.”
Oklahoma was well-represented, as she won four awards at the national competition: Kroj knowledge, kroj accuracy, cultural preservation award, and Sokol award for being active.
During her reign, Mason “lucked” into a dream trip to the Czech Republic.
The Oklahoma Czechs’ pageant director, Debbie Kessler, planned a trip for the week of Aug. 8-16 where a member of the party had to back out at the last minute.
“My mom and I filled the vacant spots on the trip,” Queen Jayden said. “It was amazing. So gorgeous. We walked over 100,000 steps and 100 flights of stairs; we saw so many things in a week that it takes most people months to see. Some of the highlights included visiting a handful of castles that had the original furniture in them, all the famous things in Prague, and we stayed with a few host families.
“My takeaway is the kindness of the Czech people there. Everyone was so kind and willing to help. Hosts served us so much food that I thought I was going to explode! One day, we actually blew a tire and four different people stopped to help. One gave us a ride to get it fixed, and the store stayed open late to fix it. The Czech Republic citizens were so nice.”
While the people in the Czech Republic provided her with friendship, she believes the Czechs in Oklahoma are now family to her.
Reflecting on her last year, Queen Jayden believes that she is taking away as much as she is leaving.
“Now that I’m ending my final year with the Oklahoma Czechs as a member of their royalty, my takeaway is the family that you grow from being a part of this community. It is so memorable,” she said. “I’ve made lifelong friends that are family – both kids and parents.
“I will be handing over my crown on Czech Day, and I have so many memories and people to cherish for the rest of my life.”