Like an Olympic skier starting down the slopes, Pasadena 17-year-old Vanessa Manjarrez has just begun the most exhilarating ride of her life.

Given her crown as the 2013 Rose Queen this week by the Tournament of Roses, Vanessa and her colleagues on the Royal Court will make dozens of public appearances and receive the adulation and support of many, culminating in a ride on the official Tournament float on Jan. 1.

All hail the queen.

But all hail her many subjects, too. This is the time of year that volunteers around the region put their shoulder to the work of raising funds, decorating floats, inspecting them for safety and quality or preparing to direct traffic and man the ramparts on the day of the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade.

Many of these volunteers have been at it for decades, and together they form the heart of an event that garners worldwide recognition. They may never wear a tiara, but without them the tournament would not be the event seen internationally and locally as the highlight of the new year, every year.