Upon entering the International Hall at The Broadmoor on a crisp winter evening in late December, guests were reminded of the lyrics penned by songwriter, Phil Collins: Something’s “in the air tonight … And I’ve been waiting for this moment, for all my life …”
The 54th Colorado Springs Debutante Ball was canceled in 2020, along with just about everything else, due to the pandemic. So it was with great anticipation that friends and family of the 2020 and 2021 debutantes recently came together to once again celebrate the accomplishments of 28 outstanding young women.
The magic rebounding from past years was evident as the pageantry and tradition of this very special event once again was feted and cemented by a strong sense of community. Many distinctions remain the same, but with an always-changing cast as new debutantes engage in the symmetry of this decades-old local rite-of-passage.
The Debutante Ball Committee describes the purpose of the event as follows: “A tradition since 1967, the Colorado Springs Debutante Ball honors and celebrates young women who possess high academic achievement and, together with their families, are active in local community philanthropy. The Ball is held each December, with the proceeds contributed to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation, solely for the acquisition of art.”
The 2020 debs were informed in the summer of 2020, as COVID-19 raged, that the ball that year was being postponed. There was a great deal of uncertainty about a future event until the 2021 debutantes were announced six months ago; and the Ball Committee made the decision to present both the 2020 and 2021 groups of young women at the 2021 ball.
Fourteen 2020 debutantes, and 14 2021 debutantes happily prepared for the event. Although the presentations were done on the same night, each group participated in separate events leading up to the ball, including luncheons, etiquette lessons, curtsey parties and fashion events to choose their individual, iconic white ballgowns.
Backstage, the 2020 and 2021 debutantes, along with the 2020 post debutantes, excitedly prepared for their presentations. Stories were shared about family history involving the single-strand pearl necklaces and pearl stud earrings that many of the debutantes were wearing.
Family legacies run deep. Debutante, Graceanne Mason explained that her mother was a Colorado Springs debutante in 1988, and her father was an escort the same year for another young woman at the same event.
The International Hall was decorated with a forest of white-light-laden evergreen trees that are gradually being converted to all-LED illumination. The trees were accented with large pots of red poinsettia plants at their bases. More white lights cascaded from the ceilings. Table decorations alternated between towering displays of red and white roses, and art-deco-style candelabra adorned with crystal glass tubes enclosing amber-flamed candles. The dinner tables were suitably decked out with gleaming silverware, crystal glassware and sparkling white table linens.
As a jazz combo played, the presentations began with Dr. Daniel Barret Thatcher as the Master of Ceremonies. The 2020 debutantes entered the hall escorted by their father or father-figure and two male escorts, all dressed in crisp white tie and black tails. With her turn in the spotlight, and expertly dropped curtsies to the receiving line and the audience, each young woman made her presentation. Next, the 2020 post debutantes were presented, each accompanied by an escort of her choice. The 2021 debutantes followed with their three escorts as they made their formal presentations.
A joyful father/daughter dance followed the ceremony. The announcement was then made: “Dinner is served!” The Broadmoor outdid itself with a fine, gourmet feast: Olathe corn bisque; grilled beef tenderloin and garlic poached jumbo prawns; salad greens with poached pears, candied walnuts and Humboldt Fog cheese. Dessert was a delectable trio of raspberry cheesecake parfait, whipped cream-cheese mousse, and Chambord-soaked lemon cake.
The dance floor quickly filled as a DJ cranked out energy-pumping tunes. Too soon, this long-awaited event came to a close. The crowd slowly departed into the brisk cold air outside, greeted by a brilliant quarter-moon high in the sky. The Colorado Springs Debutante Ball once again upheld the value of long-held traditions and significant legacies, unbroken despite recent challenges.