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Aksarben group retires royal tradition for mythical kingdom

March 30, 2018

In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 photo, Aksarben Queen Elizabeth Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, left, and King Ken Bird smile during the Aksarben Coronation & Scholarship Ball in Omaha, Neb. (Sarah Hoffman/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska philanthropic organization has decided to end its more than century-old tradition of crowning a king and queen to reign over a mythical kingdom.

The Aksarben Foundation announced the decision this week to retire the coronation at the organization’s annual ball in a letter to former members of an Aksarben-related women’s committee, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Eliminating the tradition has been discussed in the community for many years.

Since 1895, the Aksarben ball has crowned an older male community leader as king and a college-age female from a prominent family as queen. The woman would be chosen based on her father’s accomplishments.

The idea was that the king represents the past and the queen signifies the future and prosperity. Once the two were honored, they’d reign over make-believe Quivira until next year’s royal pair was named.

The image of the old king and young queen “is out of sync with today’s societal views,” said Jan Stoney, Askarben’s first female board member.

Many critics of the tradition commented on the arrangement over social media, where one person on Facebook called the event “creepy.”

“I think the major issue is that even now in 2017 the ‘queen’ is chosen by the accomplishments of her father,” one commenter wrote on Facebook last year. “When Omaha has so many young women who are scholars and accomplished athletes in their own right it just seems bizarre.”

The organization will continue to hold the annual ball with an emphasis on honoring individuals and families for their community service, but the coronation tradition will end.

“We will raise money for need-based scholarships, community grants and initiatives to further workforce development,” said Kirk Kellner, chairman of the Aksarben Board of Governors. “Money raised at the Ball will continue to benefit many people throughout the Heartland.”

This year’s ball will be held Oct. 13


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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