(LINTON) - Jessica Tharp, a 2008 graduate of Linton-Stockton High School, was chosen as one of 33 women to represent her hometown, university, and the Indianapolis 500 Festival.
Tharp, a Ball State University senior, is the daughter of Kenny and Lori Tharp.
Sabrina Westfall of the Greene County Daily World reports that the process began in January when Festival judges interviewed a total of 274 girls. Tharp was one of 66 girls chosen for the second round of interviews in February.
Tharp was notified she won by an email.
"When I got the email, all I saw was 'Congratulations 2012 Indy Festival Princess'. I was so excited, I went running up the stairs to tell them," Tharp said.
Until Festival activities start in May, the princesses will be taking part in outreach programs of their choosing.
"Next weekend, on the 25th, I will be participating in Nathan's Playground. When kids are at Riley (Hospital for Children), a lot of times their siblings are forgotten about," Tharp explained.
Nathan's Playground gives toy care packages to the siblings of sick children, so they do not feel left out while parents spend time with their sick child.
Tharp also plans on coming back home to show off her princess wave and crown Saturday, April 7 at Lyons Raceway Park.
She also has plans in the works to visit Linton-Stockton Elementary fourth graders during the book fair.
Throughout May, Tharp will be taking part in 500 Festival activities on site, including a
Kid's Day. As a journalism major, being a princess switches things up for her.
"We get to talk to media at the events, which is right up my alley. Although, now I am on the PR (public relations) side of it, and not on the journalistic side," Tharp added with a laugh.
The end of April will hold another interview with the princesses to decide the queen and her court to be crowned at the 500 Festival parade. Although, Tharp says she is not nervous because she has already reached her goal by becoming a princess.
Tharp said she would love to see people from her hometown watch her as she participates in the Indy 500 Festival Parade. She said the parade attracts people from all over the world, but she would like it to be more personal for her.
"The more your community is part of it, the better your experience. I would be even more excited if it's people from home I am smiling and waving at, and not just people from Indy," she said.
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