Ringing out the old year and ringing in the new, the Mystic Order of Revelry ushered in 2019 in memorable fashion. Begun in 1928 and standing as the Capital City’s oldest mystic men’s society, M.O.R. held its 91st Annual Ball at the Montgomery Country Club on New Year’s Eve. This year’s ball will long be remembered by members and guests alike for its lively throng of midnight revelers, the graceful plenitude of Maids of the Court, and the dual queens who reigned over the evening.

The evening began for M.O.R. members and their out-of-town guests with the customary pre-ball Members’ Party in the M.C.C. Dining Room on the main floor. The gathering was a full house and buzzed with anticipation of the evening’s memorable tableau and New Year’s celebration. Attendees of the pre-party enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while listening to the sounds of Montgomery singer songwriter and guitarist Clint Darby. As the nine o’clock hour approached, guests began making their way to the M.C.C. Ballroom while the Krewe of M.O.R. and their ladies began organizing for the tableau.

 A Royal Welcome

The first hint for attendees of M.O.R.’s twin queens was evident in the grand foyer of M.C.C. Because the venerable M.O.R. train could not be duplicated or shared by the two queens, longtime M.O.R. designer Sarah Spratling knew exactly how she wanted to showcase the long train. She enlisted Kris Johnson to help her figure out how to hang the beautiful train from the foyer’s third floor railing down to the landing of the grand staircase. The train – featuring a magenta velvet edged in classic ermine fur, and embellished with the letters “M.O.R.” and a motif of thistles in gold and green accents – was a magnificent focal point of the Club’s foyer. The staircase bannisters were draped in silver and gold bunting and were accented with cascades of flowers at various points. Terri Neill arranged 20 of these floral cascades with beautiful hot pink alstroemerias, white spray roses, stargazer lilies and Italian ruskus. 

Arriving guests and members were greeted by the Reception Committee, which was chaired by Mr. Stan Baker Hale. The Reception Committee also included Mr. Hampton Forrest Hook, Sr., Mr. Walter Leonard Overby, and Mr. Richard Patino – all longtime friends of the 2018 M.O.R. Ball Captain. As guests made their way to the Club’s third floor ballroom, they could enjoy and reflect on large photos place on easels showcasing various M.O.R. balls of the past 90-plus years. Upon entering the ballroom, guests were welcomed with flutes of champagne as they admired Spratling and her team’s transformation of the venue into a royal hall. Guests entering the ballroom were greeted by the evening’s Floor Committee, which was chaired by Justice William Burwell Sellers and comprised of Mr. Thomas Bynum Albritton, Mr. Christopher Scott Simmons, the Honorable Bryan McDaniel Taylor, the Honorable John Harold Taylor, and Mr. Galen Jay Thackston, all of whom are friends and colleagues of the Captain.

As a fitting entry for dual queens, Sarah Spratling designed a different look for the entrance to the ballroom by using two sets of doors as a dual entrance for the two queens. The rest of that wall was covered by black draping except for the center doors which were covered in a drape of magenta velvet. In front of the drape Sarah devised a tall pedestal with a large urn that was filled with more roses, hydrangeas and lilies with the addition of white sasanqua camellias and loropetalum from Sarah's yard. Ward Chesser of Spratling’s team had to use two ladders to construct the arrangement soared to 14 feet. 

Opposite the ballroom’s entrances, an elevated platform provided the focal point of the Captain and Queen’s throne and fitting platform for the lovely Maids of the Court. A bench throne, draped in magenta velvet, would be shared by the Captain and Queens. Prominently featured behind the throne platform was the large M.O.R. emblem hung in front of floor-to-ceiling gold and silver lame, with the rest of the wall covered by black draping. On the stage, the long throne bench was flanked by two large garden urns that were filled with white roses, stock and hydrangeas. Chesser added the final touch by adding stargazer lilies and tall curly willow branches that were lit with twinkle lights.

 The Tableau

Master of Ceremonies Haygood Paterson Poundstone welcomed guests of M.O.R., and the Dominoes closed the doors of the M.C.C. Ballroom and secured the invitations, a task carried out for 91 years by these hooded and robed men. Then, in keeping with a long tradition, the ball began with introduction of the beautiful Ladies of M.O.R. who promenaded in two lines through the separate set of ballroom doors. The Krewe of M.O.R. followed their Ladies and entered the ballroom with their usual discord and frivolity, blowing horns, rattling noisemakers and waving to their guests with their identities concealed in their masks, top hats and sharp formal attire.

The Master of Ceremonies then introduced the 2018 Ball Captain of the Mystic Order of Revelry. The Captain entered the room waving his sparkling scepter while sporting a mask, top hat and the Ball Captain’s black velvet cape lined in royal purple satin and adorned on the back with the M.O.R. emblem. Upon waving his scepter several times to the ball’s attendees, the Captain then stepped up to the stage from which he would preside over the evening’s ceremony and festivities. 

The presentation of the M.O.R. Maids of the Court began with each Maid alternating through one set of the two entrances to the ballroom. The Master of Ceremonies introduced each debutante as she stood beneath the ballroom’s central chandelier, where she performed her first of three elegant curtsies. After curtseying to the Captain at the foot of the stage, the Maids then proceeded left to the Colonial Room where they were announced by Deputy Master of Ceremonies Robert Houston Young, Jr. and performed their final curtsey. 

Fourteen young ladies were honored as Maids of the Court, and each looked stunning wearing deep purple chiffon dresses and traditional ivory opera length gloves. The one-shoulder gowns featured a soft bow on the right shoulder and a flowing skirt, which was flattering to all and complemented each debutante’s beauty. The Maids carried striking bouquets featuring Eskimo, Moonstruck and white majolica spray roses created by Sarah Spratling. Sarah interspersed blush coffee beans among the roses and then surrounded the flowers with a collar of salal leaves. 

The 2018 Maids of the Court were: 

Miss Ashley Hughes Anthony, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John Lee Anthony, Jr. attends Southern Methodist University where she is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Miss Anthony’s escort for the evening was Olin Brooks Vinson.

Miss Conner Caroline Broach, daughter of Mr. Culver Robert Broach, III and Ms. Lynne Colwell Broach. Conner attends Birmingham-Southern College and is a member of Kappa Delta sorority. Her escort for the evening was David Ford Tomlinson.

Miss Margaret Garrett Canary, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William James Canary, attends the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. At St. Andrews, Margaret is a member of the university’s polo team.Miss Canary’s escort for the evening was James Woodham Kemmer.

Miss Elizabeth Starke Clements, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Chester Clements, III.  Liz attends the University of Alabama where she is a member of Chi Omega sorority. Her escort for the evening was Samuel Frederic Feibelman, Jr.

Miss Anne Morgan Cousins, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Penton Cousins, attends Louisiana State University where she is a member of Chi Omega sorority. Anne Morgan‘s escort for the evening was William Peyton Wilhite.

Miss Mary Elmore DeMott, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Miles Lamar DeMott and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Turner Inscoe.Miss DeMott attends Vanderbilt University where she is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Her escort for the evening was Henry Churchill Hamlett.

Miss Holland Elizabeth Griffin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Woodfin Holland Griffin, attends the University of Alabama and is a member of Kappa Delta sorority.  Miss Griffin’s escort for the evening was William Huston West.

Miss Elliott Dreyspring Herron, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Dayton Herron, attends the University of the South where she is captain of the cross country team. Her escort for the evening was Anderson Baytop Scott.

Miss Lucy Dunn Massey, daughter of Mr. John Hall Massey and Mrs. Noble Crump Yelverton, and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Benjamin Massey, Jr. and the late Mr. Winton Malcolm Blount, III.  Miss Massey attends the University of Alabama where she is a member of Kappa Delta sorority. Her escort for the evening was Andrew Phillip Bell, Jr.

Miss Margaret Preston McGowin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Claude McGowin, attends the University of Alabama and is a member of Kappa Delta sorority. Miss McGowin’s escort for the evening was Charles Anderson Elliott.

Miss Frances Alice Patrick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Benjamin Patrick. Miss Patrick attends Auburn University where she is a member of Kappa Delta sorority. Her escort for the evening was David Elsworth Kirkpatrick.

Miss Olivia Meriwether Rush, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Atwood Bullock Rush, Jr., attends the University of Alabama. At Alabama, Olivia is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority where she serves as chapter president. Miss Rush’s escort for the evening was Wilson Sternenberg Shanahan.

Miss Kathryn Pierce Russell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jackson Russell, Jr. attends the University of Alabama and is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Pierce’s escort for the evening was Noah Taylor McNelley.

Miss Mary Haley Terry, daughter of Mr. Michael Russell Terry and Mrs. Edwin Louis Reed.  Miss Terry attends the University of Alabama where she is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Her escort for the evening was Barton Todd Lester, Jr.

Following the introduction of the Maids of the Court, the Master of Ceremonies announced the Pages to the Captain and Queens of M.O.R., who were: 

Master Burton Townsend Holmes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dustin Lane Holmes

Master Davis Houghton Smith, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Davis Houghton Smith

Master William Crocker Waits, son of Dr. and Mrs. Joshua Crocker Waits.

The Pages costumes, created by Mystick Couturier, were silver satin pants and tops overlaid with tabards of wine and forest-colored bengaline satin that were trimmed in silver fringe and embellished with custom embroidered M.O.R. emblems.

A Pair of Queens

With pomp, pageantry and trumpet fanfare befitting a royal entrance, the climactic moment of the evening arrived with the introduction and entrance of the 2018 Queens of the Mystic Order of Revelry, Miss Annabel Denise Roth and Miss Madeline Michelle Roth. The Queens are the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Tobin Bernard Roth of Montgomery.

Queen Annabel is a junior majoring in Public Relations at the University of Alabama with a minor in Political Science. She is a member of Chi Omega sorority where she serves as chapter president. Queen Annabel’s escort for the evening was Mark Allen Millsap.

Queen Madeline is a junior majoring in Culinology at Mississippi State University with a Spanish minor. Madeline is a member of Chi Omega sorority and also serves as chapter president. Queen Madeline’s escort for the evening was John Kirkland Adams.

Like the girls themselves, the queens’ dresses were very similar but each an individual creation. Both gowns were an ivory silk with a delicate illusion overlay, featuring sweetheart strapless necklines and trumpet silhouette. The gowns were embellished with sparkling white and smoky gray Swarovski crystals by Mobile Mardi Gras seamstress Judy Green. Each gown’s voluminous pattern of crystals and beading echoed the details of the other queen’s dress and sparkled brilliantly under the spotlights of the M.C.C. Ballroom, along with the crowns, collars and scepters held by both queens. The royal regalia was accessorized with ivory kidskin leather opera length gloves.

The Queens’ elegant de Medici collars held special meaning for Queens Annabel and Madeline, and a particular history for twins reigning at the M.O.R. ball. The matching collars, comprised of curved petals of delicate silver lace embellished with sparkling rhinestones and edged in silver cording and pearl-beaded fringe, were previously worn in 1994 by M.O.R.’s only other twin queens, Margaret Noble Owens and Mary Noble Burch. The dazzling collars had not been worn in the 24 years since the Noble twins wore them, yet they perfectly complemented Queen Annabel and Madeline’s ivory gowns with silver and crystal beading. In their mint condition as maintained since that special evening in 1994, the collars were graciously provided to Queens Annabel and Madeline for the 2018 M.O.R. ball by Mr. and Mrs. John Noble, Jr., the parents of Queens Margaret and Mary.

With the traditional M.O.R. Queen’s train on display in the Club’s grand foyer, Queen Annabel and Madeline’s royal trains were custom designed by the Southern Costume Company in New Orleans. The matching 12-foot trains were made of silver brocade with wide gold trim and lined on the underside in deep purple satin. The queens’ sparkling ivory gowns were a beautiful contrast against the purple lining of the trains. The only distinction in the two trains were prominent purple velvet appliques centered at the base of the trains featuring each Queen’s monogram in gold and silver letters edged in rhinestone crystals. 

Once the Maids of the Court, the Pages and the Queens had processed through M.C.C.’s ballroom and the Colonial Room, the complete Court took the stage. The 2018 Ball Captain presented a gift to the Queens, which was the customary large silver tray for each Queen engraved with the M.O.R. emblem and the Queen’s name. Immediately after, the Krewe of M.O.R. presented flowers to the Mother of the Queens, Mrs. Michelle Sawyer Roth, and also to the 2017 Queen, Miss Abigail Stewart Hagood. The tableau reached its finale when the Ball Captain offered a round of toasts to the evening’s revelers, specifically toasting the members of the Mystic Order of Revelry, the Ladies of M.O.R., the Maids of the Court, and the 2018 Queens of M.O.R. In toasting Queens Annabel and Madeline, the Ball Captain dubbed them “a pair of Queens – a Queen of Hearts and a Queen of Diamonds, if you will – who will hopefully bring us all both Love and Prosperity in the New Year!”

Counting Down the New Year

Upon the completion of the tableau, the band Black Jacket from Tallahassee, Florida opened the dance floor with the first dance for the Maids and their escorts to the tune “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” This high-energy band then drew a full crowd onto the dance floor, and the ballroom remained full until well past midnight. At the actual striking of midnight, the 2018 Ball Captain and his wife led the countdown to 2019 which culminated in a balloon drop and confetti cannons showering the delighted party-goers.

After the ball, Queen Annabel and Madeline’s parents hosted a breakfast for family, friends and the Queens‘ classmates from Alabama and Mississippi State in the Montgomery Room of M.C.C. The Queens‘ mother, sister Lillian Rebecca Roth and friends Catherine Collins, Caroline Franklin, and Mary Jane Young had decorated the room’s white tablecloths with silver and gold New Year’s Eve top hats, party favors and confetti amidst glowing votive candles. The breakfast attendees enjoyed a buffet of pancakes and fruit toppings, eggs, bacon, and celebratory mimosas. 

Passing of the Pins

The day prior to the ball, in the very same Montgomery Room of the Montgomery Country Club, the queens were honored during a luncheon hosted by the 2017 Queen, Abigail Stewart Hagood, and her mother, Mrs. Jenny Hagood. Abigail is a Chi Omega sorority of Queen Annabel and her older sister, Lillian, at Alabama, and the Hagood and Roth families are longtime, close friends. The luncheon tables were highlighted by striking arrangments of white lilies and magnolia leaves, which were the creation of Mrs. Michelle Anthony, a dear friend of the queens and their mother, Mrs. Michelle Roth. Mrs. Anthony is also the mother of debutante Ashley Hughes Anthony.

In addition to the hostesses and their mother, the honorees were joined by their grandmother, Mrs. Brenda Sawyer of Lakeland, Florida, along with the Maids of the Court and their respective mothers. The delicious midday meal featured chicken crepes with cream sauce, roasted tomatoes with parmesan, and a light dessert of lemon squares. 

Abigail Hagood took the opportunity of the Queens’ luncheon to pass on to Annabel and Madeline the small antique jewelry box holding two crown pins. An additional crown pin was added to the jewelry box in 2018 especially for the twin queens. Following the M.O.R. tradition, the jewelry box is placed on the dresser of the queen for the following year, until it is passed to next year’s queen. Queens Annabel and Madeline laughingly assured the luncheon attendees they could manage the single antique jewelry box since they share a room in their parents’ home. A particularly charming aspect of the jewelry box tradition is that the box also holds a small piece of paper informing the recipient(s) of the history of the M.O.R. jewelry box. 

The luncheon concluded with a gift presentation to each of the Maids of the Court by the 2018 Ball Captain on behalf of himself and the Queens. Each Maid received a silver cuff bracelet displaying an engraved M.O.R. emblem and personalized with each Maid’s monogram and the year 2018. The luncheon hostess and last year’s queen, Abigail Hagood, was presented with the same gift. As part of the presentation, the Captain offered a personal anecdote about each Maid – most if not all of whom he has known since they were small girls. The Ball Captain made the observation that after many years of growing up together and enjoying team wins, celebrating birthdays and sharing various other special events, those occasions were fleeting for the group. He offered the prescient observation that “I am confident the 2018 M.O.R. Ball will be a fitting culmination of your many years together!”