Like Queen Draino in his younger days, Ellen is full of spunk, hope, and good will. "The Grove is a place where you can be yourself and still have people love you anyway," she chirps. "And I've finally learned to accept CocoWalk."
While Draino's background -- a four-year stint in the navy and years as a chef in Michigan -- brought a down-to-earth grittiness to the parade, Ellen's vita suggests the start of a more ethereal spectacle. Born in Coral Gables, she says she earned a master's degree in English literature in 1979 from Simmons College in Boston (named after John Simmons of therapeutic mattress fame). One of her first psychic triumphs, she claims, was predicting John Lennon's death, and later his reincarnation in the form of a now fifteen-year-old boy in Coconut Grove by the name of Zeph. She claims to have been the spiritual adviser to the University of Miami football team when Jimmy Johnson coached there.
Last month, while crossing Mt. Blanc in the Alps by train, her left eardrum ruptured. The injury cut her three-week European vacation two weeks short, but she was still able to manage a religious experience at Turin. "The Christ shroud looks just like Bob Marley," she says. "The presence of Christ was really overwhelming."
The selection of Ellen as queen gives Glenn Terry, Strut founder and perennial King Mango, encouragement about the future viability of the parade. "Draino is a bright guy and an important Grove character, and I think Ellen will fill the same shoes," says Terry, a 49-year-old lawyer, art teacher, and avowed mango lover ("I just eat a lot of them, steal them from people's yards, et cetera"). He got the idea for the Strut from the Doo-Dah Parade in Pasadena, California, which spoofs the Rose Bowl Parade.
That Queen Ellen is severely allergic to mangoes and broke out in a rash upon learning of her rise to the throne will not pose a problem for her royalness. "Mostly I want to do it," she says. "We'll see what happens.