For the 20 young women who made their debut at the 88th Cinderella Ball Saturday, everything about the evening was enchanted. But that was also true for the 575 guests who braved a snowstorm to watch the debutantes waltz with their fathers across the Omni William Penn ballroom floor.
Only one of them would be chosen as Cinderella after her name was drawn from a giant pumpkin by Prince Charming Andy Waldman (son of Hal and Diane Waldman). The fairy tale came true for Olivia Cochran, daughter of Rob and Christina Cochran, who danced with her prince and then joined in the Grand March as the Rick Purcell Big Band played from the gilded balcony above. His father, the late Jack Purcell, led the orchestra for many years and was honored with a tribute in the program.
That such pomp and circumstance still enthrall is a tribute to the importance tradition plays in Pittsburgh. The second-oldest debutante ball in the nation (it was founded in 1924) has changed with the times and has been kept alive through the efforts of the Cinderella Women's Committee, led by president Becky Keevican. They select a different beneficiary for the ball's proceeds and the debs are expected to perform community service for that organization. This year nearly 900 hours were donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western PA, represented by its president, Mike Hepler. Haley Myer volunteered 140 hours and earned the CWC scholarship for her outstanding effort.
Chairs Jamie Lanier (with Addison) and Janet Summers (with Roland Oslund) opened the ball along with last year's Cinderella and prince, Rose Egan and Sean Hannon. Then came the introduction of the floor committee -- the handsome escorts and friends who march in wearing tails to great applause. After the presentation and waltzes it was time to eat, with executive chef Jacky Francois and catering director Lora Peluso doing an outstanding job of delivering an elegant repast -- vichyssoise shooters, peppered filet mignon and sweet potato hash. The setting was truly magical, thanks to Bill Chisnell of bcp. Pink lights filled the ballroom and orchids dripped from tall crystal vases, creating a fairlyland effect.
The ball's traditions run deep in the families as well. Cousins Ellington Muse (daughter of Chip and Courtney Muse) and Anna Muse (daughter of Jay and Jennifer Muse) are both third-generation debs with ball affiliations dating back to the 1920s. Caroline Ellis (daughter of Keefe and Stacy Ellis), Adelaide Jones (daughter of Katie Jones and the late Michael Jones) and Margot Kelley (daughter of Brendan and Natalie Kelley) are all second-generation debs. First-generation debs with ball affiliations included Lucy Buckman (daughter of John and Ann Buckman), Sarah Deiseroth (daughter of Lee and Betsy Deiseroth), Julia Bozzone (daughter of Mike and Natalie Bozzone), Megan Hollingsworth (daughter of Jim and Susan Hollingsworth), Madison Mordoh (daughter of Henry and Sandy Mordoh) and Caroline Sanford, in from Los Angeles and the daughter of Scott and Carolyn Sanford.
First-generation debs being presented were Dominique DeRubeis (daughter of Tom and Mary DeRubeis), Julia Granito (daughter of Mike and Barbara Granito), Campbell Konrad (daughter of Tim and Anna Konrad), Amanda Murphy (daughter of John Murphy and Melissa Murphy), Lindsay Myer (twin sister of Haley and daughter of Richard and Jill Myer), Taylor Patrick (daughter of Craig and Jamie Patrick) and Donna Pellegrini (daughter of Ron and Donna Pellegrini).
By evening's end they were all on the dance floor to the sounds of Finesse, hoping the fairy tale would last until the stroke of midnight.