WASHINGTON, D.C. - Jackie Lynn Ray, an aide to U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), has been named Oregon's Cherry Blossom Princess for 2005, Blumenauer's office announced Wednesday.

The daughter of Jerry and Stephanie Ray of Echo, grew up in Hermiston and attended Hermiston High School.

"Jackie has shown through her dedication to Oregon that she certainly deserves this honor," Blumenauer said. "I'm excited she will represent our state in this celebrated event."

Ray serves as Blumenauer's scheduler and office manager in his Washington, D.C. office. The 23-year-old graduated from the University of Oregon, where she served as president of the Student Senate. She served as a congressional intern for U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., in the summer 2002.

Ray also was named Junior Female of the Year in 2002 and belonged to two honor societies, Friars and Order of Omega.

The 94-year-old Cherry Blossom Festival held annually in Washington, D.C., commemorates the partnership between the United States and Japan. The selection of princesses representing each state and several countries has become a foundation for the festivities.

The festival begins Sunday and ends Saturday, April 9. It contains both educational and cultural elements. Princesses will meet first lady Laura Bush in the White House, visit embassies and meet ambassadors.

Festivities also include a Cherry Blossom Ball where a queen is chosen to represent the United States when the festivities shift to Japan. The queen will be selected by a random spin of a wheel and will tour Japan for 10 days.

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