Fathoms o’Fun delivers for South Kitsap community

When it comes to giving Port Orchard a feel-good time, while at the same time building the confidence, character and communication skills among the city’s youth, nobody does a job better than the volunteers at Fathoms o’Fun.

Each year, the non-profit organization gives local residents experiences that provide safe, family oriented entertainment in a variety of venues, including the Easter Egg Hunt at  South Kitsap Community Park, the Murder Mystery event, held downtown, weekly Concerts by the Bay at Waterfront Park and the Grand Parade held every summer in June.

Fathoms o’Fun royal princesses and queens appear at all of thee events interacting with local residents. Additionally, they traveling across the state to represent Port Orchard through appearances at parades held in Leavenworth, Seattle, Silverdale, McCleary, Shelton, Marysville and Tacoma, among other places.

At local events the princesses queens and kings, known as “royalty,” participate in surveying the audiences’ zip codes at the various events to help the Fathoms o’Fun organization determine what proportion of the attendees are out-of-town tourists as well as what the audience liked and disliked at the festivals, parades and concerts. This provides Fathoms o’Fun with the necessary information to continue to modify the fun-filled events according to the preferences of residents and tourists alike to provide  the most optimal family entertainment experience possible.

Fathoms o’Fun royalty are scholarship recipients who must go through a rigorous and extensive interview process that includes questions from judges serving within the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis  Club, Port Orchard Bay Street Merchant Association, Lyons Club, Women’s Business Group, Eagles Club and Soroptimist International.

In addition to interacting with the public on a face to face basis at events held within Port Orchard, students who compete as volunteers for the Fathoms o’Fun  Royalty Scholarship gain skills in communications that promote impromptu speaking and critical thinking. Each contestant is asked a question from the local judges and has to deliver an impromptu speech based upon the question.

The process helps build character among the royalty scholarship recipients and ensures that the most talented, driven and outgoing competitors will become recipients of the prestigious crown that leads  to a Fathoms o’Fun Royalty Scholarship,  says Fathoms o’ Fun Royalty Program Co-Director Helene Jensen.

“It helps them in their future and changes the dynamics of who they are so that they become well-rounded adults,” she said. “They get the question ahead of time and have to answer the question five times at each organization. It’s not just a one night thing — it takes several weeks to prepare and decide who the winner is. The judges draw questions from a jar such as, ‘Tell us what you think about the mayor. Another Judge might ask, ‘What does it mean to be involved in Fathoms o’Fun.’” Jensen said. “My daughter was a Fathoms o’Fun princess and later became Miss Kitsap. Now she can relate to the community anywhere. They are ambassadors for Port Orchard and Fathoms o’Fun. ”

Joanna Aquino, a 16-year-old junior at South Kitsap High School who helped Fathoms  o’Fun collect zip codes at Thursday evening’s Concert by the Bay at Waterfront Park — featuring Frank Sinatra cover artist Joey Jewell — earned her princess crown at last year’s pageant. She created a story line narrative that thrilled local community members and judges with vivid imagery of the Fathoms o’Fun Mystic Dragons Under the Salish Sea.

“She talked about how she was a mermaid and made friends with the dragon and how she had a beautiful tale that changed colors,” Jensen said. “All of the princess contestants at the pageant had to make up a story. But it’s how you deliver your story — not just the content but the delivery.

“Then she sang the Little Mermaid song from the film. Some contestants for the crown choose a monologue, some people do wrestling, some do musical performances. There are all kinds of things that people do to display their talent at the Pageant. They wear beautiful ball gowns.”

“If young men compete for the Fathoms o’Fun Royalty Scholarship then they would where a suit rather than a gown,” Jensen added. “We have had a couple of young men who have competed for king.”

Fathoms o’Fun is now recruiting for volunteers who want to participate in putting on the Easter Egg Hunt, the Murder Mystery event, Concerts by the Bay and the Grand Parade among many other events.

Youth ages 16-19 who desire to compete for the Fathoms of Fun Royalty Scholarship will begin practicing and preparing for the 2013 spring pageant after the first of the year. “We need a base of at least dozens of volunteers for any of the events,” Jensen said. Individual community members and local businesses are strongly encouraged to make donations to Fathoms O’ Fun for the scholarship.


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