"Magic, beauty, color, amusement, character, intrigue, questions, excitement, puzzlement, amazement, fear, suspense, fun and a happy ending" are the reasons why Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is still a classic today, according to Ian Turner, celebrity host of Llandudno, Wales, Alice Day on May 4, 2012.
And Turner's favorite character in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? "Why, Alice, of course. Without Alice there would be no Wonderland, no White Rabbit, no Mad Hatter, no Queen of Hearts, no Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, no March Hare and no Tea Party," he comments.
Counselor Greg Robbins, Llandudno's mayor, explains that "the Town Council has kept the role of Miss Alice in a very special place." The annual Miss Alice competition is a historical and distinguished Llandudno tradition. Girls aged between 8 and 10 years, who live in one of the five Llandudno wards -- Craig-y-Don, Gogarth, Mostyn, Penrhyn, and Tudno -- are all eligible to enter. Five judges preside over the entrants to the contest and the criteria for selection of the winner is based on the contestants' knowledge of the Alice in Wonderland books, presentation and appearance on the day of the competition.
Once Miss Alice is appointed to this most prestigious of positions, her duties are fairly extensive. They include public appearances at the town's most important events alongside the mayor of Llandudno. This is, after all, the town where Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll's original inspiration, spent her summer vacations. "Miss Alice not only reminds everyone of the link that Llandudno has to Alice Liddell, but also to the Victorian heritage of our town," explains Mayor Robbins.
Alice Day organizers at Alice in Wonderland Ltd. are planning to bring together all the Miss Alices from 1982 to the present day for a very special reunion tea party, which shall take place during a Victoriana Extravaganza weekend immediately following Alice Day. May 4, 2012 itself, which would have been Alice Liddell's 160th birthday, will have the spotlight firmly focused on the current Miss Alice.
So how does 9-year-old Nicol Thompson feel about the most important day in her year? I was curious to meet Miss Alice and find out.
When did you first discover the book Alice in Wonderland?
Mummy used to read it to me when I was tiny. It's always been there. I must have about half a dozen different book versions (as I've handed on my baby versions now) plus about 4 different DVD versions. I prefer reading it to watching the films.
Why do you think the story is still so popular with children today?
Because it's an adventure and children like to use their imaginations. It's very popular with adults too and Johnny Depp has made it cool to like Alice!
Can you tell us what we can expect at your Mad Hatter's tea party on Friday, May 4, 2012?
Lots of fun. The town band will be playing, there will be music, actors, street entertainers, birds of prey, art competitions, the Mad Hatter, Lewis Carroll (I mean Charles Dodgson, of course), mayors and mayoresses from all over the place, and hundreds and hundreds of guests. There will even be a Victorian fun fair in the town that weekend! And lots of cakes and jam tarts! I have even invited the Queen of Hearts -- as long as she promises not to cut off anyone's head! And the White Rabbit has promised not to be late for this very important date.
What are you most looking forward to on this special Llandudno day?
That's a tough one. There are lots of things but probably most of all is to see everyone having fun.
Which event in your Alice year so far was your favorite and why?
Another tough one, as there have been so many things. It was great fun being arrested by the cards, and amazing getting a VIP tour of Christ Church in Oxford and seeing the Jabberwocky. Closer to home, my fear of dogs was cured when I had to judge six dog shows. The event I will remember forever is meeting the children from Chernobyl. They have been through so much, have so little and are so poor -- but yet they remain so happy.
What has being Miss Alice and representing Llandudno meant to you? What have you learned during your year?
Llandudno is a beautiful place to live. I have always known this but being Alice has made it even clearer and has allowed me to share this with other people. Being Alice has also shown me that the things my Mummy and Dad have taught me, like good manners, politeness and speaking nicely are really important. How much nicer the world would be if everybody was like this! We're lucky in Llandudno. Not only is it the Queen of Welsh resorts and the Daffodil Capital of Wales, it has also recently been voted the happiest place to live in Wales.
So being Miss Alice has meant the world to me -- I was chosen to represent the town I love so much.
What advice will you give to the next Miss Alice who is to be appointed on May 26?
My advice to the next Miss Alice is to enjoy every moment as it is a dream and that dream won't last forever. But at the same time, remember that you are representing Llandudno, your school, your family and yourself -- make everybody proud!
Thank you Miss Alice Llandudno. You certainly make us curiouser and curiouser...........
For curious people:
Photos courtesy of Deborah Thompson.
C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, "The Global Search for Education" and "How Will We Read?" She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland.
Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld