The first indication that the 52nd Colorado Springs Debutante Ball would shine was the sight of the rising silver moon in the eastern sky as the event got underway. Inside the International Hall at the Broadmoor Hotel, 21 young women excitedly waited for their turn in the spotlight. The hall was softly lit by evergreen trees shimmering with white lights, strings of muted bulbs streaming down the walls, crystal chandeliers, and candelabra illuminating the elegantly set tables.

Soon it was time for the long-awaited ceremony to begin. First, 14 post debutantes dressed in identical royal blue gowns proceeded with their escorts to the stage, followed by the receiving line guests. Then the spotlight focused on each white-gowned debutante as she flashed a brilliant smile to the audience of 400 friends and family members. Each debutante was escorted by her father or father-figure and two close male friends or family members; all stylishly dressed in black tails and white ties. After each small group proceeded down the red card carpet, the debutante dropped into a low curtsy honoring the receiving line, turned toward the audience, and executed another deep curtsy accompanied by her beaming expression.

Gone are the days when debutante balls were held to present young women to society in order to meet potential spouses and secure a suitable marriage. Nowadays, debutantes use this experience to benefit their communities.

“Girls have career goals, want to make a difference in their communities, and gain polish and confidence to pursue their aspirations,” said Christine O’Brien, former Texas deb and mother of debutante London Lyle. She explained that the emphasis in Colorado Springs on the debutante experience is philanthropy and social responsibility. Since its inception in 1967, the Colorado Springs Debutante Ball has raised more than $670,000 for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Foundation, leading to the acquisition and restoration of multiple fine pieces of art.

Much about the debutante experience through the years has remained the same.

Betsy VanderWerf, former deb, committee member and mother of debutante Carolyn VanderWerf said many of the welcome traditions continue the tried-and-true legacy of beauty, glamour and good works of the annual Debutante Ball. For Betsy, the ball is a long-time family affair, as her mother, Bunny Noland, was on the planning committee for 20 years, and her father, Nelson (Red) Noland, was the emcee for five years in the 1980s.

For 2008 debutante Cassandra Glaser, daughter of committee member, Diane Glaser, the annual ball represents a chance to reminisce. Cassandra’s father passed away eight years ago, and she loves reliving happy memories sharing the excitement of the experience with him. Being a debutante encouraged her to network and form important relationships. “It taught me perseverance, class, and kindness,” she said.

After the debutante presentation and charming father-daughter waltz, it was time to feast on butternut squash bisque, grilled beef tenderloin and pan roasted salmon, mixed greens salad, and flourless chocolate cake with fig compote. Music throughout the evening with presented by The Swing Connection, Jerry Brown Trio and Dressed in Black. By the time dinner concluded, couples crowded the dance floor to continue the evening of magic, lights and tradition.

2018 Colorado Springs Debutantes from northern Colorado Springs and the Tri-Lakes region are Rebecca Jean Bodman, Whitney Rose Moran and Preston Toliver Moskal of Air Academy High School; Taylor Renee Weissman of Pine Creek High School; and Sarah Kathleen Miller of The Classical Academy.

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