This year the Regatta will commemorate one hundred and twenty-five years honoring the Columbia River and its gifts to our community. Over time the celebration has changed and grown. “There used to be grandstands on the riverfront for people to watch races. Log rolling was a popular event held annually as well, which would be a lot of fun to watch if we could bring that back,” Melissa Grothe Regatta secretary shares. The Astoria Regatta Association’s goal this year is to raise $125,000 in honor of the anniversary. “We want to build sustainability for our future,” Melissa explains, and this can be done through financial donations or giving of time or resources by the community. “We’d love to be able to bring back events or establish new traditions!”

The Astoria Court attends fundraisers, dinners and events as a team each year. Here they are at the Ships Up the River Navy Dinner, Caitlin Hillman, Kayla Helligso, Catherine Tapales, Serena Moha and Mara Dowaliby respectively. Photo credit:
Photo credit: Melissa Grothe

One special tradition that has continued since its outset is the Regatta Court. Each year a distinguished group of young women are chosen for their contributions to the community and their academic excellence. This year, four amazing women will be competing for the honor of Regatta Queen. 



This year the annual Bingo Fundraiser returned as a Regatta activity, much to the delight of the court. Photo credit: Melissa Grothe

Serena Moha

“It is such a great opportunity to represent Regatta during such a big milestone,” Princess Serena Moha says. After watching Regatta events and hearing about the accomplishments of previous princesses, Serena was inspired to join the court this year. Here she has made new friends and gained a mentor, “My mentor has been there to support me through other community work and helped start me on a path toward my career goals.” 

At Warrenton High School, Serena is involved in band, playing the saxophone in jazz band, as well as playing the flute in the Columbia River Symphony. She loves being a part of Warrenton because it is, “such a tight knit community that is always working together.”

Kayla Helligso

Kayla Helligso was inspired to be a princess by her sisters participation in past Regattas, “I loved seeing them serve the community,” she explains. Which led her, she says, to join in on a tradition that has helped her improve her public speaking, learn about responsibility and get to know some great people. 

Kayla attends Astoria High School where she plays for the softball team, a sport she has loved since elementary school. In her free time she likes to relax by fishing and spending time with her family. 

This year is special, she says, because she is a part of the oldest tradition west of the Rocky Mountains, “Our community has kept this tradition thriving for the last 125 years.”

Mara Dowaliby

To Mara Dowaliby the Regatta represents, “Resilience, tradition and history.” She says the Columbia River is important to our community and it has defined Astoria’s industries, “It is the backbone of Astoria’s personality.” Mara has been a part of the Regatta for as long as she can remember, her family has always celebrated together. 

Mara attends Warrenton High School and is involved all over the community she loves. She is part of the Viking-Nordic Dance Group and Vasa Lodge #215. She also takes pleasure in being active with family and friends. This year she has loved getting to know her mentor, Alissa Trotter, owner of Human Bean in Warrenton. 

Mara has always wanted to be a princess, she says at first she was excited for the crown, but that’s changed. “As I have grown up I’ve been swayed by the service behind Regatta and being part of a such a meaningful festival.”

Caitlin Hillman

Seaside High School boasts Caitlin Hillman as their 2019 Regatta Princess. She enjoys golfing as a Seaside Gull and cheering on the other teams. And since she’s a Clatsop County girl, she even loves cheering in the rain. 

Through the Regatta Court, Caitlin has made a great connection with Alisa Dunlap, her mentor through the program, “She has been a great resource for me,” she explains.

Caitlin’s first memory of the Regatta was the Coronation ceremony. Right then, she knew wanted to be a part of it. This year she was finally able to apply, “The Regatta provides an opportunity for young girls in our community to serve, gain public speaking skills and further our education with scholarship dollars.” She plans to use her skills and scholarships to pursue a degree in elementary education. 

As a princess she has enjoyed the camaraderie with the other girls and is very excited for the parades. “It is always so fun to wave to everyone,” she says. With all of the excitement of her reign, Caitlin is doing her best to live in the moment, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I am trying to make the most of it!”

Regatta Queen 

Catherine Tapales

“My favorite part of the Regatta is the continuous support,” Catherine Tapales, Warrenton High School Queen explains. “It always amazes me how so many people are willing to donate their time. It couldn’t be done without them.” Catherine has spent the last year enjoying her reign as Queen, but is ready to pass on the responsibility to a great new representative of Clatsop County. 

Catherine spends her summers volunteering at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park training junior rangers. She enjoys working with kids and giving her time to a community she loves. Everyone in Warrenton is supportive, she says, “They just want to see you succeed and will do anything to help you do that.” Especially her mentor this year, 2018 Regatta President Julie Flues. Catherine says her senior year was busy, but she could always count on Julie.

The Regatta is an important event to Catherine because of its ability to bring the county together, “It is not only fun for everyone, it also helps shape young women into better versions of themselves.”

To donate, volunteer or find out more about Regatta events, visit the Astoria Regatta Association website.

To support the Regatta and the court donate to the celebration. Through time or funds, the Regatta has a goal of raising $125,000 this year to get the community involved and support the event. 

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