seen: Denver’s Debutante Ball
Although it’s not designed as such, the Denver Debutante Ball provides one of the most beautiful ways to appreciate Colorado history. Many of the young ladies who are presented at this holiday gala held at the Brown Palace Hotel are from families whose forbears settled in Colorado at the turn of the century — or before — and played key roles in developing the state’s commerce, government and industry sectors. Thus, it is both interesting and educational to see how they are following, for example, a great-grandparent’s footsteps or branching out in directions that will bring new life to underserved communities.
Of the 19 college freshmen who were presented at the 61st Denver Debutante Ball, Morgan Alexander (Indiana University); Maryanna DeLine (the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business) and Madeline Warren (Southern Methodist University) are 6th-generation Coloradans. Nicole Honnen (Baylor University); Elise Korneffel (University of Oregon) and Remington Ruyle (CU-Boulder) are from families whose roots were established here five generations ago. DeLine’s grandmother, Mary Kay Braun DeLine, was presented at the first Denver Debutante Ball, held in 1956. Ariana Kemp (Claremont McKenna College) had great-great-grandparents who arrived in Colorado in the early 1900s. Marjorie Nicholson’s great-grandfather was Denver’s mayor from 1955 to 1959 and Abigail Padgett’s great-grandfather established the Anschutz Family Foundation. Her grandmother, Sue Anschutz Rodgers, was Citizen of the West in 2006 and was the first woman to hold that title. Other debutantes were: Ingrid Backes was captain of East High School’s swim team before going on to major in nutrition at Colorado State University; Martha Baker, a member of Colorado Academy’s A-Team for Mock Trial, is midway through her freshman year at Claremont McKenna College. Madeline Bragg, who graduated with awards in physics and photography from Kent Denver School , is majoring in studio arts and communication at Santa Clara University.
Jennifer Groene, an academic letterman from Arapahoe High, is studying to become a nurse at Montana State University; Alexandra Grow, who’d been lead singer in Kent Denver School’s rhythm and blues band, is a business and computer science major at CU’s Leeds School of Business. Alexis Hutchison, who as a Kent Denver student participated in a turtle conservation and coastal restoration project in Costa Rica, is studying business at Miami Miami University. Hannah Lyford was secretary/treasurer of East High’s student council and is preparing for a career in medicine by majoring in biochemistry at Loyola Marymount University.
East High grad Margaret McGlynn traveled to Peru to help plant trees in rural villages before enrolling at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
Kathleen Wulf was on the East High School Constitutional Scholars Team and is now enrolled in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Oakley Wurzweiler spent time in a rural village in Fiji, where she helped renovate a school and a soccer field, before going on to major in environmental studies at Gonzaga University.
Chaired by Missy Eliot and held on Dec. 22, the 61st Denver Debutante Ball was emceed by Newell Grant, whose wife, Judy, had chaired the event in 2012 and 2013. Following the traditional Jerry Barnett Orchestra trumpet fanfare, Grant launched the evening by introducing the 27 post-debutantes (girls presented at the 2015 ball), who stood at attention as the 2016 debs descended the hotel’s grand staircase on the arms of their fathers.
Each deb and her dad then paused at the foot of the staircase to be joined by the deb’s two escorts before proceeding across the rotunda lobby to curtsy to a receiving line made up of Eliot and her husband, John; ball cochair Julie Wham and her husband, Richard; honorary chairwoman Sharon Martin and her husband, Lanny; and Brian Vogt, chief executive officer of the Denver Botanic Gardens, the ball’s beneficiary.
Dinner and dancing followed in ballrooms and public spaces that Plum Sage had decorated with holiday-themed arrangements.
Denver Debutante Ball chair Missy Eliot joins the debutantes in the front row for a formal photo with the escorts at the 61st event, benefiting the Denver Botanic Gardens, at the Brown Palace Hotel.
Maddie Warren stands with her father, Trey, in the waiting room before presentation.
Allie Grow is presented by her father, John Benson Grow III.
Marjorie Nicholson, center, poses for a formal photo with her parents, Christine and Will.
Richard and Julie Wham.
Lanny and Sharon Martin.