When it comes to herding, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League ladies make Rowdy Yates look like a tinhorn. They didn’t just have to work the logistic of coordinating a full slate of activities for the 46 DSOL debs throughout the year concluding with an entire weekend of events. Oh, no! That would have been a snap. But add in the parents, step-parents, grandparents and an assortment of other relatives plus the Honor Guard (aka escorts) and their kin, then you’ve got a yearlong whirling dervish.
This year’s DSOL President Sharon Barbee and her team were bound and determined to make 2013 a real fundraiser and memory maker. They had succeeded at every step along the way. Everything from the country western party at Eddie Deen’s to the Christmas party at Cynthia and Brice Beaird‘s home had gone pretty darn perfectly. Okay, so there was a bit of a traffic log jam at the Christmas party, but what would you expect when there were three parties on the block.
But now the big weekend of the gala was upon them. There was the Honor Guard and Dad dinner at Prestonwood Country Club, the Mothers/Daughters luncheon at the Adolphus, the rehearsal at the Meyerson, the pre-ball party at Gilley’s, the deb presentation including cocktail reception, deb bows and dinner at the Meyerson and closing with the Cheers and Tears Brunch on Sunday.
Not to worry. Sharon and Gala Chair Kay Weeks had all bases covered. Underwriting Chair Sharon
Ballew was reporting that her hoped-for goal had been surpassed. Registration Chair Evelyn Sandy was receiving rave reviews for her seamlessly handling any and all last minute changes in reservations and seating. Risk Management Chair Brenda Serafino had all concerns about over-the-top enthusiasm under control. Presentation Producer Jan Strimple was calming the fears and trepidations of debs, fathers and escorts.
Ah, but there were still those unpredictable incidents that tested the best laid plans.
Peter Weeks literally had an excuse from his doctor not to participating in the weekend festivities. Despite wife Kay’s planning for a year and chairing the gala, he was out of commission. The reason? He had an appendectomy Wednesday. No problem. While he was recovering from surgery, Kay carried on with a smile. Even seating coordinator Evelyn simply said, “We’ll just remove a chair” at the gala dinner.
But Pete wasn’t the only one of the leading cast members that MIA at the Honor Guard/Dads dinner at Prestonwood. Hostess/State Board of Education member Tincy Miller, was help start the deb presentation as a fundraiser for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, was in Austin taking care of business. Husband Vance, who spent the holidays in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia, made a brief appearance but left before things really got going. Subbing for the senior Millers for the rest of the evening were son Greg and wife Kim Miller.
While the dads and deb escorts chowed down on a to-die-for buffet, deb mother hen Barbara Averitt started the announcements for the evening. First was the awarding of the Lois Monk Watson Award to the person who had done the most outstanding job during the year for the DSOL. Before naming the person, Barbara read off the person’s accomplishments. It soon became evident who it was — Marena Gault. Interestingly, she hadn’t wanted to attend the dinner, but husband Roger insisted. And here, Marena thought Roger’s chief concern for the weekend was tripping in presenting daughter Marielle LeMasters at the presentation.
Honor guard President Calder Lewis introduced his officers Chaz Crews, Tucker Huth and Mark Butler. Then he thanked the DSOL team for coordinating the weekend.
Final advice of the evening to the gents: Get some rest. You’ll need it.
6:15 p.m. — Debs and escorts posed on the steps leading to the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall. Photographer James French mounted a ladder to get the big-overall-shot of the more than 90 girls in white dress and men in formal attire.
Just as the last photo is taken, the debs have their gowns, hair and makeup checked one more time by mothers, friends and stylists.
Sharon Barbee and Kay Weeks were thrilled. Not only has everything gone off without a hitch, but they’re wearing Sharon Barbee and Kay Weeks very expensive jewelry for the night courtesy of Eiseman Jewels. Alas, like Cinderella’s finery, the gems will be returned after the ball.
Parents and escorts headed to the lower lobby for the champagne reception. It’s easy to spot the dads and Honor Guard members. Fathers wore the red sashes and escorts in blue. Meanwhile the debs disappeared until their presentation. One deb walked by holding up her mammoth floor-length skirt and chomping on gum.
In this modern age of “debbing,” a new element has been added. What do to with your cell phone? While these 21st century debs no longer require the past necessities of corsets and chaperones, nothing comes between a gal and her phone.
Deb Lizzie Colton didn’t know where she was going to put hers. She thought about putting it in her dad’s pocket, but she couldn’t find him. For a moment, she had a look of envy on her face. There were some debs like Caroline Moore whose Nardes gown had pockets just right for a phone. Luckily for Lizzie, the girls had designated areas backstage for their gloves and “things,” so Lizzie’s phone would probably end up there.
6:55 p.m. — One of the last debs seen with friends at the top of the staircase leading to the lower level. Realizing that it was time to get backstage, she knuckle bumped her friends farewell and disappeared.
While the crowd was growing in the lower lobby, some parents were customizing their tables. DSOL deb parent vet Pam Perella admitted that it never occurred to her to dress up their table when their
daughter bowed. Karen and Stephen Jones‘s table #122 had calligraphy placecards and cookies glazed with deb daughter Jessica‘s portrait. If there was a numero uno table in the sea of beautifully decked out upper lobby, this was it with the calligraphy placecards reading Myrna and Bob Schlegel (they were the evening’s honorary co-chairs and had just flown in from Florida), Jessica’s grandparents Gene and Jerry Jones and Linda Sweeney, Natalie and Mike McGuire and Karen and Stephen.
Table 112 boasts chocolates and cupcakes at each place. Tables #105 and 110 offer boxes of “Dude, Sweet Chocolate.”
Nearby tables paled with placecards with just first names in rough cursive or no placecards at all.
As all levels of the Meyerson was continuing to fill, the topic du jour was the next day’s Super Bowl. When asked if he was going to watch the Super, Honor Guard member Matthew Evans didn’t hesitate saying it was downright un-American not to.
Making a sacrifice play were Gene and Jerry Jones, who had just flown in for their granddaughter Jessica Jones’s bow. Yes, they would be flying out the next morning, but Gene was adamant that nothing was going to prevent them from attending the gala.
In the meantime, the lower level was starting to get crowded and seating was limited to a set of leather benches along one wall and five chairs against another. Evelyn Sandy and her ladies were checking guests off left and right. No problems here.
7:02 p.m. — Sam Olson knew how to make an entrance. He slid down the metal banister from the upper level. Billy Hough has the accessory of the night — a walking cane with silver cobra head with green eyes. “Are they really emeralds?” Bill responded, “Oh, yeah,” with a mischievous smile similar to that of a used car salesman.
7:20 p.m. — Now the lower lobby was really getting cozy. iPhones were saluting clusters of friends and outstanding outfits like last year’s deb Sullivan Franklin-Mitchell‘s gown that shimmered like Christmas tinsel. Three off-duty policeman stand on the landing between the upper and lower lobby. They diplomatically advised lower lobby guests that drinks have to remain downstairs. In other words, the upper level was to be dry until 10 p.m. Half-drunk glasses are deposited all around as guests made the decision to relinquish their beverages in order to get their seats.
7:29 p.m. — Honor Guard members and deb dads started to head upstairs. If the Meyerson chimes calling guests to the hall ring, it was hard to tell. The chatter in the lower lobby was drowning out any bells.
7:50 p.m. — The hall was starting to fill. Where before the registration table was hit with waves of guests, now the ushers were playing traffic cops directing guests to their seats. One woman sought leniency for her seat. Seems she had a very bad cough and requested being seated on the aisle. Tricky situation since the deb moms have carefully been seated on the aisle by which their daughter will exit the hall.
Myrna and Bob were seated in Box V of the Dress Circle. They’re old pros at the deb bowing exercise having had three daughters presented. Gene and Jerry are on the 50-yard line, rather the center of the floor just a row back. To the left of the stage half of the Terrace Section A rows were empty on purpose. That is where the deb dads will take their place after presenting their daughters.
8:05 p.m. — The presentation started. Stan Gardner handled the emcee duties flawlessly. Kay introduced the Schlegels and then her committee. Sharon Barbee thanked one and all. Stan returned to the podium and introduced the Honor Guard and Assembly officers, which is made up of former DSOL debs. Needless to say, each of these young women has perfect posture and makes an itty bitty curtsey.
8:15 p.m. — The debs were presented. Stan told the audience that, “Each of tonight’s debutantes has chosen a personal song for her presentation.” First deb is Alex Burnett, who got things rolling with an upbeat “Dixie.” Others followed with slower tunes like “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Edelweiss,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Dancing in the Moonlight.”
Not one father faltered in handholding his deb down the staircase nor planting a kiss on the girl’s cheek. All deb executed perfect deep bows. And everyone of the escorts offered a gloved hand to aid the debs in rising from the floor.
However, the evening was not without its highlights like:
Aubrey Moraif broke the traditional protocol. Instead of receiving the kiss on the cheek from her father and proceeding with the bow, she threw her arms around her father. The sounds of “Ah” swept through the room.
- Despite Stan’s admonishment to “please express your appreciation with respectful applause,” some of the audience’s younger members couldn’t resist and cheered on the deb of their choice.
- At one point the dreaded sound of a beer bottle tipping over and hitting the hall’s floor rung out throughout. Evidently one of the guests had managed to sneak a drink past security.
After final deb of the night Mackenzie Williams was escorted out of the hall, Stan announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise as we offer our applause to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s 2013 debutantes and their Honor Guard escorts.”
The mothers then exited the hall via the aisles and the fathers headed to the dance floor to face their final challenge of the evening — the grand waltz.
As the fathers took their places around the dance floor, they were joined by their wives and relatives. As time passed, it was no surprise to see the fathers look toward the staircase from the hall. Finally, the girls in snow-white gowns were escorted to the edge of the dance floor by their escorts.
At that point the escorts left the debs, who headed straight to the arms of their dads. Taking their places on the dance floor, the duos danced in celebration of successful debuts and Dallas Symphony Orchestra fundraising.
The next morning the gowns and tails were packed away and following the Cheers and Tears brunch, the debutantes, parents and escorts settle down to an evening of watching the Super Bowl.
Perhaps if Sharon, Kay and the DSOL ladies had been in charge of the New Orleans game, the stadium lights might have stayed on.