SEEN: Cen­tral City Flower Girls open fes­ti­val

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Joanne David­son Joanne David­son: 303-8091314, par­ti­writer@hot­ and @joanne­david­son on Twit­ter.

Ever since the first Cen­tral City Flower Girls were pre­sented in 1932, this pre­lude to the Cen­tral City Opera’s an­nual Sum­mer Fes­ti­val has helped bring Colorado his­tory to life.

This year was no ex­cep­tion.

Of the 20 girls who come fall will be high school se­niors, a good half-dozen are from fam­i­lies that set­tled here in the 1880s while oth­ers are de­scended from men and women who have left their re­spec­tive marks in busi­ness, pol­i­tics and phil­an­thropic en­deav­ors.

Mem­bers of Sophia Cor­bett’s fam­ily, for ex­am­ple, were early-day ranch­ers in South­ern Colorado and her grand­fa­ther, Don­ald E. Cor­dova, was the first His­panic to be named a fed­eral judge in Colorado. His gavel and other mem­o­ra­bilia are in the Western His­tory col­lec­tion at Den­ver’s Cen­tral Li­brary.

Emma Domich’s fam­ily his­tory can be traced to Fort Collins in 1882 when her great-great- great­grand­fa­ther was elected judge of Larimer County. Molly Lit­tle is the great­grand­daugh­ter of Joseph F. Lit­tle, the first mayor of Cherry Hills Vil­lage. Her mother, Christy Jor­dan, is a sixth-gen­er­a­tion Coloradan while her fa­ther, Christo­pher Lit­tle, is a fifth-gen­er­a­tion na­tive.

Al­li­son Smith’s ma­ter­nal great-great-grand­par­ents ar­rived in Colorado via cov­ered wagon in the 1890s. Her pa­ter­nal great­great-grand­par­ents had ar­rived 20 years ear­lier to set­tle in the coal min­ing com­mu­ni­ties of south­ern Colorado. Elise Cor­poron’s fam­ily has lived in Colorado since the turn of the cen­tury; Ju­lia Del­laSalle’s fam­ily has been in Colorado for 95 years; Lau­ren Ep­pich’s fam­ily has resided in Den­ver since the late 1880s, while Kather­ine Sawyer’s fam­ily set­tled in Colorado in the mid-1880s.

Sarah Hybl’s grand­fa­ther, for­mer Cit­i­zen of the West Bill Hybl, brought the U.S. Olympic Train­ing Cen­ter to Colorado Springs, where her dad, Kyle Hybl, is chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer for the El Po­mar Foun­da­tion, which has sup­ported the Cen­tral City Opera for decades.

J. Lan­dis “Lanny” Martin, chair­man emer­i­tus of the opera’s board of di­rec­tors and grand­fa­ther of 2017 hon­oree Hannah Lester, served as master of cer­e­monies for the event that be­gan with the tra­di­tional blast of dy­na­mite.

The Flower Girls were in­tro­duced as they de­scended the stairs lead­ing to the Opera House Gar­den. Af­ter­ward, the hon­orees, their es­corts and par­ents danced to the “Yel­low Rose Waltz” on Eureka Street, in front of the historic Cen­tral City Opera House, be­fore re­pair­ing to the Teller House for a din­ner in­spired by the opera “Car­men.”

The evening con­cluded with a mu­si­cal pro­gram in the Opera House and danc­ing.

Jody Phelps, whose daugh­ter Jennifer is a for­mer Flower Girl, chaired the event with help from a 50-mem­ber com­mit­tee that in­cluded Suzanne MacKen­zie, who will or­ga­nize the fes­tiv­i­ties in 2018; Edie Bell, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral City Opera Guild; Heidi Hoyt, the pub­lic­ity co­or­di­na­tor; and Nancy Parker, chair of the board of di­rec­tors.

Oth­ers in the Flower Girl Class of 2017 were:

Lila Arnold, who will rep­re­sent Colorado Academy in an ex­change pro­gram in Ar­gentina this sum­mer; Sarah Dencker, the co-founder of Kent Den­ver School’s on­line mag­a­zine; Sarah Emanuel, whose grand­mother, Ju­lia Secor, is a past pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral City Opera Guild; and Claire Hutchi­son, whose sis­ters Hae­ley and Alexis, along with cousins Mikaela and Mor­gan, were Flower Girls in years past.

Made­line John­son’s sum­mer plans call for work­ing as a coun­selor at Adam’s Camp; Alexan­dra Niles, who is on the Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety at East High School, plays soc­cer for the Colorado Rapids Select Team. Carolyn Rob­bins, who’ll be a se­nior at Kent Den­ver School, is on the board of Break­through, a sum­mer men­tor­ing pro­gram.

Wylie Schwartz, a fifth­gen­er­a­tion Den­ver na­tive, is the niece of Pam Bans­bach, a mem­ber of the opera’s board of di­rec­tors and past pres­i­dent of the opera guild. Wylie’s late mother, Tracy Collins Schwartz, had also been a Flower Girl.

Syd­ney Turner, goal­keeper for the Colorado Academy soc­cer team, won the 2016 Scholas­tic Art and Writ­ing Sil­ver Key Award for her dra­matic script, “No Onions Please.” And, Kelly Wulf main­tains a 4.0 grade point av­er­age at East High School, where she is a mem­ber of its vaunted Con­sti­tu­tional Schol­ars team. She earned her open wa­ter scuba div­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion this sum­mer in the wa­ters sur­round­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef in Aus­tralia, where she also com­pleted 40 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice by work­ing at a wildlife sanc­tu­ary and re­pair­ing hur­ri­cane-dam­aged beaches in Fiji.

Pho­tos by Steve Peter­son, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

The Yel­low Rose Ball and Flower Girl Pre­sen­ta­tion marked the open­ing of the 2017 Cen­tral City Opera Fes­ti­val, at the Teller House in Cen­tral City.

Daugh­ters of past flower girls, from left: Elise Cor­poron, Wylie Schwartz, Hannah Lester, Sarah Em­manuel and Molly Jor­dan Lit­tle.

Made­line John­son in a photo taken by Chris John­son.

From left: Lau­ren Ep­pich, Kather­ine Sawyer, Al­li­son Smith and Ju­lia Del­laSalle.

Carolyn Rob­bins.

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