The 72nd annual ball of the Mystic Order of Minerva was a royal evening and paid homage to the traditions of the Victorian era as the Court donned their pastel dresses and matching ostrich plumes on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at the Montgomery Country Club. This year's ball honored five young ladies, four daughters and one granddaughter of M.O.O.M. members, who had “reached the age of maturity,” their junior year of college. The tradition of pastel plumes and gowns, long white kid gloves, erect postures, curtseys, and little gold chairs began with Queen Victoria and continued in England until Queen Elizabeth II halted the presentation of debutantes at court in 1958.

Minerva, the 2021 Ball Captain, hosted a lovely luncheon on the day of the ball at the Montgomery Country Club honoring the debutantes. Also attending were the debutantes’ mothers and grandmother, along with last year’s Minerva, and this year's executive board. Minerva’s identity was not revealed to members and guests until the luncheon. The table decorations were magnificent arrangements created by Al Cantrell of Al’s Flowers with flowers of peacock blues, and jewel tones of red, green, and gold. The attendees were treated to a detailed history of M.O.O.M. from 2021 President Katie Bradshaw. Minerva and the board presented each young lady with a beautiful sterling silver Alabama cup engraved with her monogram and the organization’s crest. Minerva also presented each debutante with an elegant beaded necklace in the colors of peacock blue. The luncheon came to a close when each debutante was “plumed” with the ostrich feather according to the color of her dress.

Immediately following the luncheon, a brief rehearsal with the debutantes, their presenters, and escorts was held upstairs in the ballroom. Priscilla Ball-Crommelin, Executive Director of River Region Ballet, along with Ms. Sarah Spratling, instructed the young ladies on the specifics of the proper curtsey for the evening’s tableau.

That evening, a flowing banner with a depiction of the goddess Minerva adorned the balcony of the Montgomery Country Club. Guests were welcomed by Reception Committee members, Mrs. Jane Taylor Albright, Mrs. Clark Dale Fine II, Mrs. Tobin Bernard Roth, and Mrs. Joel Fredrick Dubina.

As guests made their way to the ballroom, they were treated to flutes of champagne. The masked Dominoes were positioned at the ballroom doors to receive their invitations. The Floor Committee, Mr. John Breland Burnham, Mr. Lewis Peyton Chapman III, Dr. Michael Lewis Ingram, and Mr. Henry Ellis Moore directed special guests to their reserved seating and distributed the evening’s programs.

In the role of Ball Captain of the evening, Minerva planned and hosted a beautiful event for the M.O.O.M. members, the debutantes, and their guests. Minerva collaborated with local event planner Bob Vardaman to create a royal setting. On the entry stairs, Bob displayed a peacock nestled in a floral nest of blue delphinium, white hydrangea, Bells of Ireland, and lavender stock. The Ballroom was flanked with banners that depicted European coats of arms and were draped with green velvet to create a stunning backdrop for the presentation of the debutantes. Minerva’s throne was perched on a star-shaped stage flanked by candelabras. Guest tables were covered in green velvet tablecloths. Each table held an Armillary sphere and candles, which complimented the European theme.

Bob used theatrical lighting to create scroll patterns on the ballroom ceiling. The Colonial Room provided the setting for hors d'oeuvres and drinks for all guests, members, and the debutantes during the ball. An antique single mast vessel filled with cascades of pink and white roses was on the center table. The gold mast with pink and purple sails created a unique backdrop. The evening’s menu included the organization’s traditional fare of cocktail shrimp, mocha cakes, finger sandwiches, and other delectables.

The evening’s procession began with Mystic Order of Minerva members, masked and robed, followed by members of the Reception and Floor Committees, and then the Board members of M.O.O.M. who took their positions surrounding the throne of Minerva. The Mothers of the Maids of the Court were then ushered in and to their reserved seats by the debutantes’ escorts for the evening. 

The processional culminated with Minerva and her escort, Mr. George Lewis Taylor, parading into the ballroom, and Minerva ascending to her throne. Minerva carried the traditional fan of peacock feathers complimented by a small bouquet of blue and white Delphinium designed for her by Ms. Sarah Spratling.

The Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Radney Phifer Ramsey, introduced each debutante as she entered through the ballroom doors to instrumental music playing “Isn't She Lovely.” Each young lady carried a tight nosegay of spray roses interspersed with green coffee beans and small bits of  lavender Monte Casino. The spray roses were pink Majolica, peach Ilse, and creamy Porcelena. Each nosegay was backed with traditional peacock feathers and tied with mossy green ribbon. All were designed by local event planner Ms. Sarah Spratling who also directed the evening’s festivities.

Presented as Maids of the Court:

Miss Mary Frances Green, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marc Green, presented by her father. Miss Green is a student at Auburn University, and her escort for the evening was Mr. Zane Patrick Springer.

Miss Anna Cathryn Griffith of Austin, Texas, granddaughter of The Honorable and Mrs. Reese Howell McKinney, Jr., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Clark Griffith, presented by her father. Miss Griffith is a student at Texas Tech, and her escort for the evening was Mr. Thomas Anderson Speaks.

Miss Mary Jane McConnell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Gray McConnell, presented by her father. Miss McConnell is a student at Washington & Lee University, and her escort for the evening was Mr. Robert Baird Tuveson.

Miss Martha Mead Robertson, granddaughter of The Honorable and Mrs. Reese Howell McKinney, Jr., daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John Douglas Robertson, presented by her father. Miss Robertson is a student at University Of Virginia, and her escort for the evening was Mr. Brian James Wilson.

Miss Ann Elaine Fitzpatrick Williams, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Dison McClure Williams, presented by her father. Miss Williams is a student at the University of Alabama, and her escort for the evening was Mr. Miller Chadwick Powell.

At the conclusion of the evening’s presentation, the debutantes and their fathers commanded the dance floor for the first dance of the evening before their escorts politely “cut in” to commence the night of celebration. Musical entertainment was provided by the Auburn-based band, Kidd Blue. David Robertson was the photographer for the evening capturing formal and candid moments.