WV Italian Heritage Festival Names Miranda Lang as Regina Maria the 40th at Spring Gala

By Connect Clarksburg Staff | May 11, 2018
 
A crowd of more than 360 people were on hand Saturday night at the Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg for the WV Italian Heritage Festival's announcement of the young woman who would reign over the 40th annaul Festival Labor Day Weekend.
 
The Festival's Spring Gala is always a well-attended annual event sponsored in part by the owners of Village Square.  The Gala is used to announce the name of the Queen who will be crowned on Friday at noon during the Italian Festival on Labor Day weekend. 
 
Tyler Terango, the Chairman of the Festival's Board of Directors, announced that Miranda Quinn Lang, a 23-year old American University graduate and native of Bridgeport, was chosen to be Regina Maria XL.
 
According to Mike Queen, the master of ceremonies for the Gala, Festival goers always look forward to the Spring Gala as a kick-off for the Italian Festival season.  This is just the first of many events, organized by the Festival Board that are held from spring until Labor Day Weekend."
 
"Tonight is special to us as this year is the 40th Anniversary year, and tonight, we welcome our 40th Regina Maria, Queen of the Festival, and her court.  This annual Spring Gala is held in her honor and for the special announcement of who our next Queen will be," Terango said.
 
Mary Frances Beto-Smith was the very first Queen chosen in 1978.  Now a retired educator and high school principal, Beto-Smith has entertained Festival goers for all 40 Festivals.  On Saturday evening, Regina Maria I sang the National Anthem.
 
The National Anthem was then followed by the Italian National Anthem sang by Denise Roncone.  Like Beto-Smith, Roncone is also an accomplished singer.  Roncone serves as a member of the Festival's Board of Directors.
 
Mary "Weege" Fargo is a former chairman of the Board and a longtime Board member.  She used her time at the podium to reflect on the Festival's four decades of history.  
 
Rose Mazza is the Chairman of the Queen's Committee for the Festival, a position she has held for 11 years.  Her Committee is responsible for the planning and preparations for the Spring Gala.
 
 
Mazza introduced her Committee members and all of the former Regina Maria's in attendance for the Gala.  Those former Queen's included (left to right above) Kristin Queen, Mary Frances Beto Smith (1st), Leslie Queen Pruitt (6th); Miranda Lang (40th), Elyse Gemondo (35th), Dominica Bonasso Yoho and Briana DeFazio (38th).
 
Prior to the announcement of the new Queen, the Festival recognized the current Regina Maria, Miss Alyssa Oliverio of Belmont, WV.  Miss Oliverio suffered an injury to her foot while in Colorado and was unable to attend the Gala.  She was represented, however, by her parents, Joe and Paula Oliverio.
 
"We certainly miss her presence here this evening and we wish her a speedy recovery", said Mike Queen on behalf of the Board.
 
"As Regina Maria this past year, Alyssa is leaving big shoes to fill.  We know that she will pass her experiences on to future queens and coach them to every success imaginable," he said.
 
Queen Regina Maria the 39th is a 2016 graduate from West Virginia University-Parkersburg with an Associate’s Degree and a Board of Regents Bachelor of Arts degree.
 
Alyssa obtained her Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification and taught 2nd grade in Thailand.  In addition to developing a love for the people of Thailand, she also developed a love for scuba diving and is working toward her Master Diver Certification.
 
The current Regina Maria believes in keeping the mind and body physically fit.  She enjoys teaching yoga, and holds certification in PiYo, and kickboxing and is an avid outdoors enthusiast.
 
As a student at Fairmont State University, Alyssa was a member of Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority.  She worked with the Fairmont State Summer program with students from Cosenza University in Italy as part of the cultural exchange program. She was an active member of the Fairmont State University Dance Team where she served as an assistant choreographer. 
 
Alyssa completed a yearlong service to AmeriCorps as Dropout Prevention Coordinator for St. Marys High School.  She was one of two recipients in the state to receive the WV AmeriCorps Service Award.  She was presented with The Presidential Volunteer Service Award 2009, 2010, 2013.  She also received The Fredrick Douglas Humanitarian Award. 
 
Regina Maria the 39th graduated from Parkersburg Catholic High School where she was a member of the Varsity Tennis, Soccer, and Cross Country Teams, Hand bell Choir, and Model United Nations Team. 
 
She attended Governor’s School of the Arts and served as a People to People Student Ambassador to China. She attended Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference and was selected to return on junior and senior staff for a number of years.  She also represented WV at the World Leadership Congress in Washington, DC.
 
A highlight for Alyssa was traveling with her family including grandfather (the late Mike Oliverio, a longtime Festival Board member) to her family’s birthplace of Calabria, Italy where she participated in a ceremony joining of sister cities of San Giovanni in Fiore to Clarksburg and sister states Cosenza to the State of WV.
 
Participating in this ceremony, visiting the school, meeting family that live in the area, exchanging recipes and learning history as well as traveling throughout the region was such a special experience for our Festival Queen.
 
Alyssa is the granddaughter of Peggy and the late Richard Jones of Philippi and the late Michael and Julia Oliverio of Morgantown. 
 
After recognizing Alyssa's parents, the Gala procession to the stage started by recognizing the minor court members.
 
"What would our Festival be without children?  It is in their minds and hearts that we must instill in them the admiration for the Italian way of life that we all have come to love.  We hold our customs near and dear to our heart, as we do our children.  It is with the guidance that we give them that they will be able to teach their families, what it means to be Italian, the emcess said.
 
The Minor Court of Regina Maria 40th includes:
 
 
Miss Estelle Gentilozzi
 
Estelle Gentilozzi is 9 years old. She is the youngest daughter of Tim and Melanie Satterfield Gentilozzi. She is the granddaughter of James and Judy Satterfield of Clarksburg, Mabel Kaminski of Fort Walton Beach, Florida and Victor Gentilozzi of Clarksburg.
 
Estelle is in the third grade at Lumberport Elementary. She is active in her school’s student council, Knowledge Quest program and Battle of the Books team. She enjoys swimming, dance class and reading in her spare time. She helps her family foster kittens for the Humane Society. 
 
She helps her mom and dad prepare their homemade sauce each year at the Italian Festival Pasta Cook-off.  She also helps make pizzas and other Italian foods at her family’s restaurant, Washington Square.
Estelle is following in the tradition of her sisters by serving on the Italian Festival Minor Court. Estelle’s older sisters: Ursula, Maya and Annalise have all served on the minor court. Estelle has attended every Italian Festival since she was born and is looking forward to representing her family this year.
 
Miss Charlotte “Charlie” Rose Hanlon
 
Charlie Rose Hanlon is the daughter of Eric and Katie Hanlon, of Cannonsburg, PA and formerly of Bridgeport. Charlie is the granddaughter of Cindy and Gerald Fredrick and Christy and Charlie Hanlon.  She has a little brother, Howard who is 3 years old.
 
Charlie is in Kindergarten at St. Patrick’s Elementary in Cannonsburg were her favorite subjects are computers and music. She is an avid ice skater and loves to fish for trout on the WV rivers. She loves being Italian and continuing the traditions of cooking, baking, and spending time with family. 
Charlie wants to be a teacher when she grows up, just like her Nunnie.
 
Miss Addison Heise
 
Addison Kathleen Heise is the daughter of Emily and Caleb Heise.  Maternal grandparents are Tony and Saundra Spatafore.  Paternal grandparents are David and Caryl Heise.
 
Addison will be in the first grade at Simpson Elementary in the fall.  She takes ballet and tap at Cadalzo Contemporary Dance Studio.  She enjoys dancing, singing and sharing holiday traditions with her family.
 
Miss Harper Moore
 
Harper Gracelynn Moore is the daughter of WVIHF Board Member Lauren (Snell) Moore and Kent Moore. Harper’s mom served on the Court of Regina Maria the 21st.
 
Harper is the granddaughter of Richard and Diane Snell and James and Patricia Moore.  Her Italian heritage comes from her maternal Great-Grandmother, Angelena Jerome Smith, whose parents Dominick DiGeronimo (Jerome) and Maria Felice DiScallio, immigrated to the United States and Clarksburg, WV from Italy in 1920. 
 
Harper is a Kindergarten student at Johnson Elementary and was recently awarded the Good Sportsmanship Award for the 1st semester.  
 
Harper attends All Saints Catholic Church in Bridgeport. Harper attends Champs Central and is a member of the Glimmer All Star Cheerleading team.  She has qualified for US Finals in 2017 and 2018.  Harper has previously been a member of the WVIHF dancers.  
 
Miss Emory Maunz
 
Emory Elizabeth Maunz is a student at the School of the Cathedral Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, MD where she resides with her parents and younger sister, Margo.  Her paternal grandparents, Ed and Marie Maunz, are West Virginia natives and her father, Drew, was born in Clarksburg, WV.
 
Emory’s great-grandfather, Emmanuel Maunz, owned the Maunz Individual Shop for Men in Clarksburg that sat right next to the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival grounds.  Her grandfather worked there and later took over the store.  Emory would like to honor her courageous and fun-loving great-aunt, the late Brenda Maunz Casto, by being on the minor court.  The Maunz family hails from Agropoli, Italy.  In her free time, Emory enjoys art and participates in ballet, soccer, and basketball.
 
Miss MaKenna Robey
 
MaKenna Lynn Robey is the daughter of Matt and Jenna Haymond Robey of Bridgeport, WV.  Her maternal grandparents are Ronald Haymond and Vanessa Smith Haymond.  Her maternal great grandparents are Virgil and Joan Burnett Smith, and Norma and the late Zane Haymond. 
 
MaKenna’s paternal grandparents are Jennifer Robey and Mark and Melinda Talkington.  Her paternal great grandparents are Mary and the late Ronald Robey, Teddy Talkington, and Diane Hickman.
 
MaKenna, is a Pre-K student at Saint Mary’s Grade School.  She enjoys horseback riding, ballet and piano. 
In 1910, MaKenna’s maternal great great grandfather immigrated to Clarksburg from San Giovanni in Fiore, Calabria, Italy.  
 
MaKenna visited Italy with her mom and dad where she was able to experience Italian customs and history in person.  She also attended an authentic Italian wedding. 
 
Miss Fina Smucker
 
Fina Rose Smucker was born on February 11, 2012 in Hollywood, FL. She is the daughter of Ben and Kristin Barberio Smucker and lives in Bridgeport, WV.
 
She attended Pre-K and Kindergarten at The Clarksburg Children’s House and will attend Simpson Elementary for First Grade in the 2018-2019 school year. She plays soccer for the Bridgeport Soccer Association’s recreational league and takes ballet, tap, and tumbling from Rebecca’s Dance Studio.
 
 
Miss Devyn Lynn Wanstreet
 
Devyn is the 6 year old daughter of Matthew and Valerie Wanstreet. Her maternal grandparents are Omar and Rosa Nuno of Riverside California and her paternal grandparents are Juliann Vargo Wanstreet of Lake Forest California and Brent Wanstreet of Laguna Beach California.  Both of Devyn’s paternal grandparents were born and raised in Clarksburg, WV.
 
Her Italian linage traces to San Giovani in Fiore Italy from where, in 1905, her paternal great grand-mother Margaret Devono’s Family immigrated to Clarksburg. 
 
Devyn’s family recently relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada  where she attends Holy Spirit Catholic Church. She is a Kindergarten student at Carolyn S. Reedom Elementary School and this month is the “Explorer of the Month” for demonstrating the school’s Creed of Trustworthiness. 
 
Miss Lizah Wash
 
Lizah is the daughter of Jennifer Lehosit and Julian Wash. Her Maternal Grandparents are Melody Lehosit and Paul Lehosit and her Paternal Grandparents are Vera Wash and Julian Wash.
 
Lizah attends St. Mary’s Elementary School where she is a straight A student.  She also attends the Harrison County gifted program with exceptional interests in art and engineering.  This year she has been invited to the National Leadership Youth Leadership Forum:  Pathways to STEM in Washington, D.C.
 
 
Serving as Train Bearer for the Queen- Dante Emil Destito
 
Dante Emil Destito is a 7 year old, 2nd Grade student at Nutter Fort Grade School.  He is the son of Giovanbattista and Jennifer Peasak Destito of Clarksburg. 
 
His maternal grandparents are Emil and Mary Wilson Peasak of Bridgeport. 
 
His paternal grandparents are Saverio “Salvie” Destito, deceased, originally from Rome, Italy and Lenora Moscar Destito of Clarksburg Country Club.
 
Dante’s great-grandfather, Anthony Moscar, and grandfather, Saverio Destito, furnished the material and built the brick oven that is still on the street today.
 
Dante attends church at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.
 
 
Serving as Train Bearer for the Queen – Parker Anthony Smith
 
Parker Anthony Smith is 7 years old and the son of Krista Sheets and Christopher Smith. 
 
He is the grandson of the late Gertrude Elda DiSabella and Carl Smith.  He is the great-grandson of Carol Anthony DiSabella and great-great-grandson of Michelangelo Anthony DiSabella. 
 
The DiSabellas hail from Florence Province in the Northeast Tuscany Region. 
 
Parker’s maternal grandparents are Tamara Bolyard, Charles Harrington, and Doug Sheets.  He has a twin sister, Gwynneth DiSabella Smith, who served on the 39th Court of Regina Maria.
 
Parker will be in the 3rd grade at Eastwood Elementary this Fall.  
 
Serving as Scepter Bearer to the Queen is Brooks Antonio Bellotte
 
Brooks is the son of Melissa and Anthony J. Bellotte of Fairmont and he has one brother, Dax.  His maternal grandparents are Rebecca and Kenneth Mackey of Fairmont.
 
His paternal grandmother is Marcia Minard Black of Pittsburgh, PA and his paternal grandfather is Anthony N. Bellotte of Clarksburg, WV. 
 
Brooks is in the 1st grade at White Hall Elementary School. Brooks’ Aunt Angela Rose Bellotte was the 2014 Italian American Woman of the Year and he is also the first great grandson of past State Senator Joseph and Mary Contento Minard of Clarksburg and the late Anthony and Virginia Cologrossi Bellotte.  His paternal Italian heritage is from Foggia and Calabria, Italy. 
 
Serving as Crown Bearer to the Queen is Drake Matthew Wanstreet
 
Drake is the 8 year old son of Matthew and Valerie Wanstreet. His maternal grand-parents are Omar and Rosa Nuno of Riverside California and his paternal grand-parents are Juliann Vargo Wanstreet of Lake Forest California and Brent Wanstreet of Laguna Beach California.
 
Both of Drake’s paternal grandparents were born and raised in Clarksburg, WV.  His Italian linage traces to San Giovani in Fiore Italy from where, in 1905, his paternal great grand-mother Margaret Devono’s Family immigrated to Clarksburg. 
 
Drake’s family recently relocated to Las Vegas Nevada where he is a 2nd grade student at Carolyn S. Reedom Elementary School and attends Holy Spirit Catholic Church.  In just his first few months at his new school Drake received the Explorer of the Month award for his outstanding helpfulness to others and demonstrating the school’s mission. 
 
 
The Junior Court members of Regina Maria XL include:
 
 
Miss Mia Elizabeth Janes
 
Mia is 13 years old and attends Hamilton Middle School in Parkersburg, WV.  She is an active member of the HMS Show Choir.  Mia is an honor roll student and serves on her student council. 
 
She is a member of the HMS Citizens in Action (CIA) club for students interested in future careers in law enforcement and government.
 
Mia serves her community and school by working at the HMS Food Pantry, where she helps under privileged classmates by assisting with food and clothing drives.  She has participated in wrestling, track and is preparing for the developmental Crew Rowing program.  She is a member of the Liberty Street Church of God.
 
Mia was escorted to the stage by her father, Mr. George Janes.
 
Miss Molly Korn
 
Molly Ranee Korn is the 11 year old daughter of Rebecca Torchia Korn and Stephen Korn. Her maternal grandparents are the late Guy “Trumpy” and Mary Louise Torchia.
 
Her maternal great grandparents are the late Stanley and Florence Torchia and the late William and Aurelia Iaquinta.
 
Her paternal grandparents are Barbara Korn and the late Charles Thomas Korn.  Her paternal great grandparents are Betty and the late Eugene Walker and the late Charles and Mary Korn.
Her ancestors originated from Potenza, Calabria, and San Giovanni, Italy.  Molly is in the 5th grade at St. Mary’s grade school and attends Immaculate Conception Church.  
 
Molly was escorted by her godfather, Glen Palmer.
 
Miss Caroline Queen
 
Caroline is the daughter of Angelina Lafferty and Christopher Queen.  She is the granddaughter of Michael and Carol Ovies Lafferty and Mrs. Ann Wolf and Mr. Earl Wayne Queen.  Her maternal great-grandparents are the late Angelina Vallelonga Ovies, a first generation Italian American, and the late Manuel Ovies. 
 
Her great-grandmother Angelina, was a member of the WVIHF Honorary Council.  Caroline’s Italian heritage originated from Siderno, Reggio DeCalabria and Caulonia, Reggio DeCalabria by her great great grandparents, the late of Mr. and Mrs. Cosimo and Emmacalata Vallelonga.
 
Caroline attends St. James Catholic Church where she is active in the Youth Group, including the annual Thanksgiving dinner, “trick or treat so someone can eat”, and Christmas caroling.  She is a member of the youth choir in her parish. 
 
She attends Washington-Irving Middle School where she is a member of the WI dance line and soccer team.  Caroline is a student at Instep School of Dancs. 
 
Caroline was escorted by her father, Mr. Chris Queen.
 
 
The emcee then introduced the senior members of the Court that included:
 
Miss Cara Anne Flanery
 
Cara is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William and Sharon Ovies Flanery.  She is the granddaughter of the late Manuel and Angelina Ovies and and the late Bayles and Virginia Flanery. 
 
Her Nanie, Angelina Vallelonga Ovies, was a first generation Italian American and was a member of the WVIHF Honorary Council. 
 
Cara’s Italian heritage originated from Siderno, Reggio DeCalabria and Caulonia, Reggio DeCalabria by her great grandparents, the late Cosimo and Emmacalata Vallelonga. 
 
Cara is active in gymnastics and was the 2017 Level 9 West Virginia State Champion.  She is a junior at  She is an active member of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Charleston, WV.
 
Cara was escorted by her father, Mr. Bill Flanery.
 
Caroline Nicole Gallo
 
Caroline Nicole Gallo is the daughter of Sam and Veronica Gallo.  She is the granddaughter of John and the late Peggy Gallo.  She is also the granddaughter of Woody and Linda Duba.  
 
Caroline will be graduating from Robert C. Byrd High School in May 2018.  She has also been active in multiple clubs and organizations such as Student Council, Key Club, and Mayor’s Youth Council.
 
Caroline’s freshman year she served as her class secretary, her sophomore year she served as class president, and her junior year she was treasurer for the Key Club board.  While in these clubs, Caroline participated in numerous service activities such as The American Red Cross Blood Drive, Adopt a Highway, and many others.
 
Caroline was also inducted into National Honor Society her junior year and she served as her class homecoming attendant freshman year.  She also serves as a Eucharistic Minister at Immaculate Conception Church. 
 
Caroline is attending West Virginia University in the fall where she is majoring in accounting.  After finishing her undergraduate degree she plans on going to law school to eventually pursue a career as a Tax Attorney.
 
Caroline was escorted by her father, Mr. Sam Gallo.
 
Miss Maralisa Marra
 
Maralisa is the daughter of Kimberly and Anthony Marra of Shinnston, WV.  She is currently a senior at Lincoln High School, where she is involved in the Key Club, Student Council, Art Club, Thespian Society, National Honor Society. She serves on the Key Club Board of Directors and is the Senior Class President. 
 
She is highly involved in the arts at Lincoln High School, where she has participated in the Advanced Placement Art Program under the instruction of Mrs. Carolyn Light.  Her artwork has been shown and featured in various shows throughout the state.
 
Maralisa attends St. Ann Catholic Church in Shinnston, where she devotes time every week at the church’s adoration chapel.  
 
Maralisa’s Italian ancestry comes from both maternal and paternal grandparents.  Her paternal grandparents are the late Angelina and Frank R. Marra of Shinnston, WV.  Her maternal grandparents are Teresa and James Fortney of Enterprise, WV. 
 
On her maternal side, her relatives are from Saint John in Rome, Italy.  One her paternal side, her ancestors are from San Giovanni (in Fiore), in Calabria Italy. 
 
Maralisa will be graduating from Lincoln High School in May and plans to attend Fairmont State University in the fall to major in Business Management. 
 
Maralisa was escorted by her father, Mr. Anthony Marra.
 
Miss Gina Marie McNemar 
 
Gina Marie McNemar, of Clarksburg, is the 21-year-old daughter of Melissa McNemar and David McNemar. 
 
She is the granddaughter of Jeannie Williams and the late Ralph Williams.  She is the great-granddaughter of the late Catherine Perri Beech, a first-generation Italian-American. 
 
Gina graduated from Liberty High School in 2015.  She currently resides in Morgantown, where she works as a medical assistant and phlebotomist in the Cancer Center at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
 
Gina trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Ground Zero Fighting Systems.  Being adventurous and loving our beautiful state, Gina spent the summer of 2017 working as a trail guide, ziplining guide, and Via Ferrata Tour Guide near Seneca Rocks.
 
Gina has been looking forward to this year, since 2004, when she was on the minor court.  She is very proud to carry on this family tradition.
 
Gina was escorted by her father, Mr. David McNemar.
 
Miss Johna Rose Sedlock
 
Johna is 17 years old and attends Liberty High School in Clarksburg.  
 
Johna has consistently been an honor roll student.  She has been an integral member of the LHS varsity soccer team, where she is a starting goalie.  Johna also participates in LHS varsity basketball. 
 
During off seasons, Johna participates in travel soccer programs.  Johna is an active member of the International Club, Hair and Make-up Club, and Humane Society Club at Liberty. 
 
Johna is a member of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Clarksburg.  Johna will be a senior at LHS in the 2018-2019 school year.  She is exploring careers in education and physical therapy and would like to attend WVU after high school graduation. 
 
Since the WV Italian Heritage Festival was founded here in this county in 1978, the Festival believes that it is a fitting tradition to honor and set aside special roles for two young ladies of this area. 
 
The Maids of Honor for Regina Maria XL include:
 
Miss Maria Bowers
 
Maria is the daughter of Andrew and Antoniette Bowers of Nutter Fort.  She is currently a senior at Robert C. Byrd High School.
 
Maria is a member of the National Honor Society, and has participated in Student Council for the last 5 years.  Throughout school she has played the violin, was in the choir and has volunteered in her community.  Maria enjoys dance, music, and spending time with her family and friends.  She and her family are members of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksburg, WV.
 
Her maternal grandparents, Joseph and Maria Pasceri, were born in Cenadi, a small town in Calabria, Province of Catanzaro.  They came to the United States in 1964 and lived in New Jersey, later moving to Clarksburg in 1978 and settled in North View, where they still reside.
 
Maria’s grandfather, along with three of his cousins, Dominick Marascio, Vito Destito and Salvi Destito, helped build the very first main stage for the Festival in 1979.  These same four cousins were also the winners of the first Bocce Tournament and carried the statue of St. John in the first festival parade and for several years after.  Italian traditions are very important in her family. 
 
Maria will be graduating Robert C. Byrd in May and plans to attend Fairmont State University in the fall.
Maria is being escorted this evening by her father Mr. Andrew Bowers.
 
 
Miss Presley Marie Caplinger
 
Presley Marie Caplinger is the daughter of Jodi Beto and Todd Caplinger.  She is the granddaughter of the late Marie Joyce Oliverio-Beto and Joseph Beto.  She is also the granddaughter of Lois Caplinger and the late Donald Caplinger.
 
Presley will graduate from Robert C. Byrd High School this May.  During her time in high school she served on student council for four years.  During her senior year she served as senior class Vice President and Key Club Secretary.  During her Freshman year she served as Homecoming Princess.
 
Presley participates in community service in many ways through canned food drives and Angel Tree. Presley is a 4-year varsity softball player for Robert C. Byrd High School. In the fall of 2018 Presley plans on attending West Virginia University and majoring in Forensics Science.
   
Presley was excorted by her father Mr. Todd Caplinger.
 
The the came the major announcement of the evening when the name of the Regina Maria XL was first recognized.
 
Miranda Quinn Lang is the daughter of Andy and Lisa (Queen) Lang of Bridgeport. Her paternal grandparents are the late Jim and Kate Lang of Bridgeport, and her maternal grandparents are Fray Queen and Rosalyn (Burnett) Queen Alonso of Clarksburg. 
 
Her maternal great-grandparents are the late William and Florence (Roberti) Burnett of Clarksburg.
Miranda’s family has been involved in the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival since it was founded in 1978. Her grandmother, Rosalyn (Burnett) Queen Alonso, served as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival from 1982 to 2001.
 
Her aunt Leslie (Queen) Pruitt was Regina Maria VI in 1985.
 
Miranda herself served on the minor court as a child and has fond memories of “helping” her aunt during the Festival’s annual Pasta Cook off. She also participated in the Florence Chico Cann Children’s Choir.
 
In 2015, Miranda and her family spent two weeks traveling throughout Italy. During their visit they had the privilege to visit her great-grandfather William Burnett’s childhood home in San Giovanni in Fiore in southern Italy. Miranda’s photographs of the home were turned into a beautiful painting, and it is one of her most prized possessions.
 
Miranda is a 2013 graduate of Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania where she was involved on campus and in the community at large.
 
In addition to her extracurricular endeavors, Miranda dedicated over two hundred hours to community service efforts in south central Pennsylvania.
 
Miranda earned her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from American University in 2017. Her academics focused on the history and organization of social justice movements, and she enjoyed holding two internships in her field.
 
In 2015, Miranda organized a fundraiser to benefit individuals experiencing homelessness. She raised $3,400 and collected over 3,000 menstrual hygiene products which were donated to a resource center in Washington, DC.
 
She was awarded the HerCampus American’s Woman of the Year Award and American University Fraternity and Sorority Life’s Undergraduate Service Award for her efforts.
 
In addition to her academic and professional pursuits, Miranda was also a member of Phi Mu Sorority where she held various leadership roles, including  Vice President.
 
Today, Miranda works as the Social Media and Project Coordinator for I Support The Girls, a nonprofit organization that provides bras and menstrual hygiene products to homeless and underprivileged communities around the world.
 
Miranda was escorted to the main stage by her father, Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang.
 
The Festival Queen's Committee asked former longtime Festival Director Rosalyn Queen Alonso to formally introduce Regina Maria XL.  Ms. Alonso was also one of the orginial Festival volunteers for the very first Italian Festival in 1978.
 
"I am so happy to be here this evening with my family and so many dear friends," Ms. Alonso, a two-time cancer survivor told the crowd.
 
"It is an honor for me to present to you the young lady who will reign as the 40th Regina Maria of the WV Italian Heritage Festival," Ms. Alonso said.
 
"Miranda is my granddaughter and it is with pride that she represents the fifth generation of our family in this wonderful Festival. Little did I know in 1978, when I served as a volunteer for our very first Festival, that my family would be blessed with a daughter and now a granddaughter to serve as Regina Maria," she said.
 
"Miranda - my mom and dad, your greatgrandfather and great grandmother, were so very proud of our family's support for and participation in this Festival. It was their goal, and my goal, and now your generation's responsibility to insure that our Italian heritage and customs are passed on to future generations. Thank you for agreeing to represent our family and all Italians here in our state," Ms. Alonso told her granddaughter.
 
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Regina Maria the 40th, Miranda Quinn Lang," she said to a standing ovation for the grandmother and granddaughter as they embraced. 
 
Representing their daughter, Queen Regina Maria the 39th, Joe and Paula Oliverio placed the traditional gold medallion around Miranda’s neck, signifying her as the designated Queen for the upcoming Festival.
 
“Miranda, always wear this gold medallion as an outward sign and acceptance of the title of Regina Maria the 40th," Joe Oliverio said to the new Queen.
 
Then it was the new Queen's turn at the podium.
 
"So, I have a really great memory. Now, unfortunately this does not apply to my academic life and I can imagine my parents nodding their heads right now," Miss Lang said.
 
"This great memory of mine does, however, remember people, faces, places and experiences – sometimes of things my parents swear I was too young to remember."
 
"In preparation for this night, I took some time to think about my memories of the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival and all of its activities throughout the years.
 
"One memory that stood out to me is of my grandmother’s office. Now, for those of you who do not remember, the Festival office used to be in a house in Glen Elk. My grandmother, who just gave that lovely introduction, served as the Executive Director of the Festival from 1985 to 2001. I remember her office as having big windows full of natural sunlight, a desk prominently in the center of the room, and a large bowl of fruit on the corner of her desk. Now to this day, I still don’t know if the bowl of fruit was real, and I remember being stumped by it as a kid. Grammy, if you can clarify this for me later, that would be great!", the new Queen said jokingly to her grandmother to the delight of the crowd.
 
"That is just one small part of my memory surrounding the Festival, and as I recount it for you now twenty years later, there is no other word to describe my feelings other than magic. To be twenty-three-years-old and having attended the Festival each year of my life, to be part of a legacy of Festival volunteers that spans three generations in my family, and to be given this honor thirty-four years after my Aunt Leslie was crowned Regina Maria the 6th.  Well, there is just no other word than magic – pure magic for me," she said.
 
"With that said, you can probably imagine how difficult the task of finding a theme for this evening that encapsulates such a special and unforgettable forty years. I could not imagine a more symbolic representation of the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival than the olive tree. Most of us are probably familiar with the popular sentiment the olive tree represents – “extending the olive branch” or creating and maintaining connection despite our differences."
 
"The olive branch also represents resilience. In the Bible, an olive leaf was the first sign of plant life after the Flood. To have survived that, well, I think it speaks for itself. In a world that is lacking more and more the things that make our community unique, the Festival keeps coming back year after year, much like the olive leaf." 
 
"Also, much like the olive leaf, the resilience of the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival is in no small part due to the many men and women, past and present, who have dedicated their time to making the magic happen. The Court and I will come and go, but our dedicated Board of Directors and volunteers have and will remain."
 
"On behalf of the entire Court, I want to thank each and every one of you for this opportunity, and I urge Festival goers to also thank the Board members and volunteers. Their time is precious and so appreciated."
 
"I could continue, but I will end by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity of a lifetime. This moment, right now, is one I will never forget, and I look forward to making more memories in the months to come. Thank you."
 
The formal presentation of the new Queen and her court ended with the presentation of the entire court for photographs from those in attendance.
 
After the introductions, dinner was served by the Village Square Conference Center staff.
 
Lisa and Andy Lang, the parents of the Regina Mari XL, provided Italian cookies, oilve oil and lemoncello for each table.
 
After dinner, a dance was held with music by Amici.  Amici, who has entertained Festival goers for the last 35 years.  The band is led by Board member Stephen Pishner who has entertained at the Festival for all 40 years.
The photo above is of Regina Maria XL and her Court.
 
The photo above is (left to right) Miranda's grandmother Rosalyn Queen Alonso, her great aunt Cathy Burnett Fisher, her great uncle Bill Burnett and her great aunt Joan Burnett Smith.
 
Photos are by Mathew Dimaria of Ben Queen Photography.  You can find these and other photos at www.benqueenphotography.com
 

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