It was a celebration fit for royalty, with an estimated 2,000 loyal subjects lining Front Street in downtown Traverse City to celebrate 4-year-old Monica’s wish to be a princess. Her supporters held up brightly colored signs and stood in front of decorated storefronts in eager anticipation of catching a glimpse of Princess Monica.
Wish kid Elena and her friends dressed in Renaissance garb as they carried a banner to lead the parade with trumpeteers following right behind them announcing Princess Monica's grand arrival. Her family sat in the horse-drawn carriage in awe and amazement at the incredible sight before them as the crowd pressed in around the carriage to bestow flowers, signs and gifts upon Princess Monica.
"People that we've known for a long time and total strangers all came out to cheer Monica on and make this a special day," Monica’s mother, Alycia, said.
Monica’s day began by receiving the royal treatment from Pure Essence Salon and Spa where she had her hair and nails done. Her prince Clary, who is a fellow wish kid himself, presented her with special slippers to wear for her carriage ride.
The carriage was driven by former wish kid Lexi whose family owns Buggy Down Carriage Co., LLC. Additionally, the Traverse City Police Department offered their ceremonial protection in front of and behind her royal transportation. The TCPD captain in attendance was wish dad Kevin, who helped organize the parade route and ensure Monica’s safety that day.
"It's an honor to be able to pay it forward to Princess Monica," Kevin said. "It takes a community to overcome something like this, and it’s a perfect example of what a great city we live in."
The parade ended in front of the City Opera House where a Princess Ball was held in honor of Princess Monica. Onstage, Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers proclaimed it Princess Monica Day and National Cherry Queen Danielle Bott presented Princess Monica with her own crown.
“It was impressive to see the businesses and citizens of Traverse City come out to support Princess Monica,” Mayor Carruthers said. “I’m honored to be a part of this and see everyone come together and share her special day.”
In addition to being celebrated by friends and family, Princess Monica had an essential person in her corner on her big day - Dr. Beth Kurt, Assistant Director of Clinical Services in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology for Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. Dr. Kurt has been treating Monica, who has leukemia, throughout her medical journey, and she was filled with joy as she witnessed her 4-year-old patient make a royal transformation.
"It's been fun to actually be a part of this energy and excitement,” Dr. Kurt said. “From the moment they start to dream about a wish, it does a lot to sustain them through their treatment.”