As debutante and honor guard families took their places for photos by Gittings in the Meyerson lobby, just before the 37th Presentation Ball for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League got underway on Saturday, February 11, deb mom Kathy Crow was receiving compliments on her project to shed some extra weight. The blonde admitted that she had lost 75 pounds, and said she was planning to keep it off, too.
When another deb mom, Jennifer Dix, said she was looking forward to a glass of champagne, diminutive blonde — and deb mom — Heather Esping said to make hers a beer, please, adding with a laugh, “I’m from St. Louis.”
A couple of the deb dads admitted they were relieved that the Cowboys hadn’t made it to the Super Bowl, which was taking place the next day in Arizona. If the ‘Boys had made the big game, the fathers would have been figuring out how to be on the stage with their daughters and part of the Super Bowl festivities as well.
As the debs posed for their group photos, both proper and playful, the parents anxiously awaited for the presentation to get underway. The dads weren’t nervous, though. “The thing about this is, nobody looks at me,” said Jennifer’s husband Richard Dix. “They look at my beautiful daughter.” Kathy’s spouse Harlan Crow, who said he’d rented his “monkey suit” for the occasion, added that his sons were also there to support their sister, deb Sarah Crow.
“Despite the world’s many troubles, tonight’s a great night, as everyone is happy to be here,” Harlan said.
Despite the fact that this year’s collection of debs (Britton Barcus, Margaret Bracken, Stephanie Ciarochi, Kate Clark, Sarah Crow, Elena Dewar, Gracie Dix, Natalie Duvall, Arden Eiland, Charlotte Esping, Kaitlin Ann Kelly, Celeste Lay, Ella Marks, Ellie Michaelson, Gigi Miller, Lydia Pigott, Morgan Potter, Sasha Schwimmer, Ellie Steindorf, Catherine Stiles, Elizabeth Thompson, Lucy Tilden, CeCe Tribolet, Danielle Ward, Paige Williams and Nicole Zimmer) was almost half the size of last year’s group, there was a good reason for that. Last year’s presentation had been making up for the pandemic canceling the 2021 event. Actually, DSOL President Cynthia Beaird and Ball Chair Karen Cox were probably secretly relieved not to have a lengthy presentation, a jammed final group presentation on stage and an elbow-to-elbow dance floor. Even so, the turnout of friends checking out the debs’ Gittings portraits in the Renaissance Foyer entry and filling the lower lobby cocktail reception was impressive, with DSO President/CEO Kim Noltemy, Addison Shaw, Kate Larsen, Ainslee Lehner, Katie Cargessa, Hadley Nelson and Sophia Farlekas.
Kristi and Ron Hoyl laughed when asked whether their songbird daughter Sydney Hoyl would be singing during the presentation.
Backstage, the debs, their fathers and honor guards were enjoying their own refreshments like fruit, cheese, light bites and bottles of water. Nothing that would create a problem if a spill took place and stained the young ladies’ perfect white gowns and kidskin leather opera gloves.
(Taking in the behind-the-scenes management a little earlier, by the way, were Densil Adams and Mia Davis, whom retiring Event Producer Jan Strimple had recommended to take over the deb presentation. As emcee Stan Gardner and his wife Sara Lee Gardner arrived backstage, Jan recalled how Stan and Mia had been dance partners years before.)
At 7:15 p.m., all the players began taking their positions for the night’s main event. “Ready for the madness?” one of the sound operators asked. Replied an usher nearby: “I guess we’ll find out.”
As Assembly and Honor Guard officers, the debs and dads and the escorts took their places backstage, guests walked up the stairways leading to McDermott Hall for the formal presentation.
Upon entering the hall, some seemed surprised to learn they couldn’t take their beverages to their seats. Said one woman to another, older lady: “Come on, mom, throw it back!” “How much time do I have?” asked mom, twirling the stem of a nearly-full Manhattan glass in her hand. “One second,” came the answer. “No … really, how much time?” “Five minutes!” “That should be enough,” mom decided, downing much of her drink with a single gulp. Then she exclaimed, “Woo! Woo! Woo!” and the pair took off for their seats.
Soon enough, perennial emcee Stan took his place at the podium, advising the guests to show their respect for the formality of the occasion and introducing DSOL President Cynthia Beaird who recognized Jan for her 24 years of working with more than 1,000 debs, plus all the honor guards and DSOL officers.
The only snafu in the evening’s production took place in the introduction of Honorary Co-Chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley, when Ball Chair Karen Cox asked the couple to stand in their box on the Loge Level to be recognized. Unfortunately, the scripted spotlight that was supposed to focus on the couple was a literal no-show. So, guests craned their necks around McDermott Hall, searching for the Cooleys. By the time the spotlight did show up … finally … the couple had already sat back down. They waved, anyway.
Following acknowledging her committee (Elissa McClure, Rachel Black-Maier, Angela Jackson, Claire Catrino, Sarah Mills and Janie Richardson) and thanking her family and Cynthia, Karen turned the program back to Stan, who introduced the members of The Assembly and the Honor Guard.
Finally, much to the delight and relief of relatives and friends in the black-tie audience, the debs, dads and escorts went through their well-orchestrated paces with scarcely a mishap.
Surprising some guests was the reaction by members of the audience to the introduction of some debutantes. The pep rally responses almost transformed the formal presentation into a competition akin to “American Idol” or “Dancing With The Stars.”
Following the grand finale, with all the debs and escorts on stage, the guests returned to the lobby to catch the debs’ and their dads’ much-anticipated “first dance” of the night.
One addition this year to the usual parade of debs and escorts to the dance floor was to be trumpeters, lined up on the steps leading from the hall to the lobby. But before the trumpet fanfare could get underway, The Limelight Band onstage would have to stop performing the song “For Once in My Life.” Despite organizers waving their hands and gesturing to the band to cut things off, the music kept playing … and playing … and playing. Finally, the message got across as guests on the Loge terrace and staircase and around the lobby waited patiently in anticipation while deb parents stood around the dance floor.
The trumpets then heralded the flotilla of girls in white dresses and young gents in tails, and the couples made their way to the edge of the dance floor. As the escorts were sent off to the sidelines, the girls discovered their parents on the dance floor’s perimeter.
Then it was time for the first waltz of the night. Again, unlike last year’s dance floor that hardly allowed room for a box step, this year’s number of 26 couples proved that their dance lessons had really paid off, as they twirled and glided seamlessly around the floor to the old chestnut that’s played every year at the DSOL Ball, “Moon River.”
For more looks at the evening for formal partying, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.