Culminating a year of preparation, six local girls made their official debut to society at the Old Dominion Cotillion's 13th Annual Debutante and Benefit Ball held at the Westfields Marriott last Saturday, July 17.
"It was a really good experience, and I saw a lot of good friends. The best part was when we [the debutantes] sang 'Time of My Life' to the cadets," said debutante Anne-Stewart Downer of Oakton.
The Westfields Marriott was decorated in a black-and-white theme with floating rosebud centerpieces and a stage decorated with ribbons, topiaries and baby's breath. At the back of the ballroom, the band Olivera Music Entertainment played for the evening.
The ball itself kicked off with a cocktail reception serving drinks and hors d'oeuvres. K. Winston Gardner, master of ceremonies, made a grand welcome speech.
The band played the theme from "Beauty and the Beast," as three pages — Ryan Van Sickal, Kara Watrud and Genevieve McManus — were introduced. Next came the introductions of the 31 alumnae from the 1992-2002 classes, the post-debutantes in black, and the future debutantes in pastels.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2004 debutantes. After an "inspection" of the VMI cadets' uniforms, half of the cadets made an arc formation with their swords, while the other half escorted the debutantes across the stage. The debutantes and their fathers then shared a dance to "Daddy's Little Girl." The mothers and cadets joined in the next song, "Moon River."
Presented first, to "What a Wonderful World," was Mary Beth Charlton, 17, the daughter of Jimmy and Dana Charlton of Oakton.
"It was really worthwhile because I made a lot of friends and became closer to friends and family at the ball," said Mary Beth.
Next, the band played "My Girl" as Anne-Stewart Downer, 17, daughter of William and Stephanie Downer of Oakton, was presented.
Lauren McManus, 17, was then escorted to "Butterfly Kisses." She is the daughter of Michael and Susan Mulligan of Fairfax and Lawrence McManus of Palm Beach, Fla. Christina Shumway, 17, the daughter of David and Alexandra Shumway of Oakton, was presented to "Unforgettable." Then came Angelica Spanos, 17, who was escorted to "Angel of the Morning." She is the daughter of Helen Spanos of Falls Church.
Finally, Kristen Watrud, 17, the daughter of Donald and Rebecca Watrud of Fairfax, was presented to "18th Variation Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini."
The sit-down dinner included lobster bisque, Caesar salad, lemon sorbet, filet mignon, filet of salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffed tomatoes and chocolate mousse.
The ball ended with the Grand March led by Che Pressley Frenz, who wore her wedding gown according to tradition, for her future wedding is closest to the ball.
The Old Dominion Cotillion (ODC), founded by Sherry Pressley, ended the social season with Ball Week and the presentation of the debutantes. The season for the ODC is filled with various activities from September through July. The young ladies experienced many social activities including volunteering at Oatlands Plantation, the charity of the ODC, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains.