Stepping into a ballroom at The Broadmoor on a recent Sunday evening for the 53rd Colorado Springs Debutante Ball was like entering into a fairy tale. The soft lighting brought into focus a forest of Christmas trees each decorated with twinkling white lights. Dining tables were adorned with snowy white linens, crystal candelabras, and bouquets of white and red blooms.

The annual Ball is a testament to the celebration of the value of tradition, ongoing family connection, pageantry, a sense of pride and participation, and giving back to one’s community. The evening reverberated with an air of excitement and energy as the debutantes prepared for their presentation.

Annabel Lewis was playfully advised by her two cousins — post debs Sarah Mallory Hybl and Madelyn Lewis: “Don’t trip and always smile!” They also told her to have fun and enjoy the celebration.

The magic continued as family and friends, decked out in glamorous and debonair black-tie attire, waited for the presentation to begin. First to walk the red carpet, with their escorts, were 14 post debutantes dressed in identical scarlet floor-length gowns. The main event of the evening followed. Twenty-one accomplished young women arrayed in a variety of traditional, pure-white ball gowns; stepped, into the spotlight. Their accessories included a bouquet of white roses, elbow-length white gloves, a single strand of pearls, and white pumps. Elaborate updos, braided hairstyles, or flowing locks completed the ensembles.

This was the moment each debutante had been anticipating during the past year, as she took her turn stepping into the spotlight, and gliding down the red carpet onto the stage. Each young woman was proudly escorted by her father or father-figure, and two close male friends or family members. Well practiced curtsies were executed to both the receiving lines.

The Debutante Ball is more than a party. Debutante Madison Tittle summed up the experience, “I was asked to be a debutante and accepted with no hesitation.” She said that as a deb she was given opportunities to contribute both her time and resources to community endeavors. Her connections and love of Colorado Springs were greatly enhanced by the tradition, Tittle said. Her intention is to continue to volunteer and assist locally.

Former debutante Erin Bodien shared background information about her relationship with Ball founding member, Zoya Miller, “She was an authentic person who shared her graces and wisdom in an intangible way. Miller’s advice was to take advantage of each moment. I’m happy to see this tradition thrive based on the foundation she built for the future.”

Debutante Committee Chair Sarah O’Shea said, “Since 1967, the Debutante Ball has raised over $690,000 for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Fine Arts Center Foundation for the purchase and restoration of objects of art for the Center’s permanent collection.”

An example of an important acquisition is a portrait of Elsie Palmer, daughter of Colorado Springs founding father, Gen. William Jackson Palmer. This painting by master portraitist John Singer Sargent was purchased in 1969 with funds collected through public subscriptions as well as from the Debutante Ball Purchase Fund. Other important purchases made using the Debutante Ball Purchase Fund include a John Wayne mixed media sculpture by artist Marisol and a Kiowa cradleboard, circa 1880.

After the presentation, a soulful waltz between the debutantes and their fathers or father figures was followed by a gourmet meal of roasted cauliflower soup, grilled beef tenderloin and roasted Atlantic salmon, winter citrus salad, and a milk chocolate hazelnut tart. Soon after dessert was served, dance music by the group Dressed in Black filled the hall. The dance floor immediately filled, and the energy ramped up for the next two hours as memories were made.

The 21 young women who were feted are now an ongoing part of Colorado Springs Debutante Ball history and will be sharing their own leadership skills, individual talents, and accomplishments to enhance our community.

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