The Czech Heritage Foundation's Royal Court has doubled in size, with the announcement of a new position and dual titles. Two young men and two young women will share the duties of Czech prince and Czech princess in the coming year, and for the first time ever, a "Little Brother" will serve on the Czech Royal Court. "As one of the judges, I know what a difficult decision this was," said Janna Waters, Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa 2014-2015, who served on the Czech prince and princess judging panel. Waters said both candidates for Czech prince and both for Czech princess did an excellent job of researching their ancestry, writing essays and answering questions about Czech culture and traditions in front of the panel of judges. "Because it was such a tough choice, the Czech Heritage Foundation voted to expand this year's Royal Court," she announced during the crowning ceremony May 17 at Houby Days in Czech Village.The new Czech princes for the coming year are: Branden Knight, the son of Tom and Karen Knight of Hiawatha, and Bryce Buresh, the son of John and Jennifer Buresh of Ely. Branden, 14, an eighth-grader at Harding Middle School, served during the past year as Mladší Princ, which translates to ''younger prince.'' Bryce, 17, an 11th-grader at College Community Schools, wore the kroj (ethnic folk costume) that his father wore as Czech Prince from 1986 to 1987.The new Czech princesses are Hannah Emrich, the daughter of Tiffany Morgan and Michael Becker of Cedar Rapids, and Rachael Brandon, the daughter of Jeremy and Jennifer Wills and Jason and Andrea Brandon of Cedar Rapids. Hannah, 13, is a seventh-grader at Prairie Point, and Rachael, 13, is a seventh-grader at Oak Ridge Middle School.
The new Little Sisters also were announced during the ceremony. Victoria Knight, 11, the daughter of Tom and Karen Knight of Hiawatha, will serve her third year as Little Sister. She is a fifth-grader at Pierce Elementary. Aislin Andrews, 8, the daughter of Chad and Danielle Andrews of Lisbon, and Ingrid Landa, 7, the daughter of Craig and Christine Landa of Toddville, are the new Little Sisters. Aislin is a second-grader at Lisbon Elementary and Ingrid is a first-grader at Alburnett Elementary School.
For the first time, the Czech Royal Court has a "Little Brother," bestowing the title on Lars Landa at the crowning ceremony. Lars, 9, is the son of Craig and Christine Landa and is a third-grader at Alburnett.
Outgoing Czech Prince, Sam Uthoff, and Czech Princess, Ashley Pudil, assisted at the crowning ceremony. Janna Waters also was recognized at the ceremony for serving as a role model for the younger members of the Royal Court, and for giving her time and talents on countless occasions during the past year to spread the message about the program.
Boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 compete for the title of Czech Prince or Princess by researching their Czech heritage, writing an essay and being interviewed by a panel of judges. The winners serve as young ambassadors by representing their Czech heritage and the Cedar Rapids area in parades, festivals and other events throughout the year. Little Sisters and Little Brothers are between the ages of 6 and 12. Applicants for all of the positions must be of Czech or Slovak descent.