SEEN: Central City Flower Girls open festival
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.
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.