Western Springs teen wearing two crowns
Olivia Smaniotto of Western Springs became Chicago's 2012 Columbus Day Parade Queen July 22. Along with a court of five semi-finalists, she will be recognized at different events before the parade Oct. 8, including Italian Heritage Night at a White Sox game on Aug. 7.
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:53PM
WESTERN SPRINGS — In 2012 alone, one Western Springs resident has received the title of “queen” twice.
Olivia Smaniotto, 18, became Chicago’s 2012 Columbus Day Parade Queen July 22 in Addison through the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans’ annual pageant competition. Smaniotto was also Lyons Township High School’s prom queen this spring.
She said the two experiences of hearing she had become “royalty” were similar — each was quite a surprise.
She received the news she had won the pageant while standing on stage next to last year’s Columbus Day parade queen, Bianca Scola.
“They didn’t announce any runners up, so it was kind of out of nowhere,” Smaniotto said. “Who doesn’t like getting crowned queen? It was great.”
Questions at the competition, Smaniotto said, included what her parents’ goals were for their children and why the United States is the best country. The contest started with 13 Italian-American women who had to answer similar questions and judges selected six and then three. The audience chose from the final three.
Smaniotto, along with a court of five semi-finalists, will be recognized at a few different events in the Chicago area before the parade Oct. 8, including Italian Heritage Night at a White Sox game on Aug. 7. She said she has also received royal treatment at Western Springs’ Mecenat Bistro and Gathering Place, where she has worked as a hostess since December 2011.
“My boss is showing me off, and the restaurant has been very supportive,” she said.
Smaniotto is 50 percent Italian on her father’s side of the family. The family used to go to bocce ball tournaments in Tinley Park when she was younger, and although Smaniotto’s mom is not Italian, Olivia said, she is pretty good at playing the part.
“She can cook very well,” Smaniotto said. “Christmas is the best day ever because of the amazing food.”
Smaniotto’s mom makes sauce and panettone, traditional Italian Christmas sweet bread, Smaniotto said.
She plans to major in international studies with a concentration in European studies at DePaul University this coming academic year. She also is passionate about dance and traveling.
“Days where I don’t dance are just OK days,” she said.
She will be on the DePaul dance team, which performs at basketball games and other sporting and spirit events.
Smaniotto is enthusiastic about Italian culture and said she would love to go to Italy; she has never been there. After studying Italian at Lyons Township for the past four years, she is determined to become bilingual and will continue taking Italian at DePaul.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is her favorite Italian historical figure, as she loves his artwork and loves to draw and paint; she took four years of art classes in high school.
“I’m very grateful for what I have and am very blessed with such a beautiful life. I’m also thankful to the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans,” she said.