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Cinderella Ball toasts an evening of age-old elegance

| Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010

'Twas the stuff that fairytales are made of; glistening pumpkins, a dashing Floor Committee court of white-tied and black-tailed young handsomes, fairy godmothers, and 20 fairest of the fair gliding across the room in snowy-white gowns on the arms of their fathers.

"I'm a little nervous," confessed debutante Margaret Devlin Donnelly .

Tradition has become something of a quaint nostalgic notion nowadays, but on Saturday, we toasted an evening of age-old elegance during the Cinderella Ball , the second-longest-running debutante ball in the country that has been presenting young ladies to Pittsburgh society for the past 84 years. Saved in 2001 by the founding of the Cinderella Women's Committee, the Ball has continued its reign as our city's oldest charity event, thanks to the efforts spearheaded by Cathy Baker, Becky Keevican, Jamie Lanier and Liz Sweeney.

With the wave of a magic wand, ball co-Chairs Melinda Edwards (escorted by husband James ) and Jean Bongiovanni (escorted by husband Carl ) entered the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn on the note of The Rick Purcell Big Band before Master of Ceremonies Leonard Marsico announced each bright-eyed beauty as they curtseyed on the white-gloved hand of their father for the Grand March, an event that saw the waterworks turn on for more than one proud papa.

"I won't be able to look at my daughter ( Caroline Hope Kelley ) when I present her," admitted Brendan Kelley. "I'm going to tear up! What can I say• I'm Irish!"

Naturally, it wouldn't be an evening without the presence of a handsome Prince Charming, and we are happy to report, ladies, that contrary to popular belief, he is alive and well! As chivalrous as his title proclaims, David John Egan Jr., son of David and Delia Egan and a junior at Allegheny College (whose great-aunt, aunts, sisters and cousins presented at the ball and father was an FC member in his younger days) proudly wore the crown as he was introduced as this year's royal.

Drum roll, please: From a twinkling pumpkin that contained the name of each deb, he selected the card of Taylor Judith Linaburg, daughter of Dr. Ronald and Judith Linaburg, as this year's Cinderella (and not since 1954 has the daughter of a CWC member worn the glass slipper), slipping a silver Tiffany bracelet on her wrist before waltzing to "Some Day My Prince Will Come."

Following the promenade, we were seated around tables adorned with luscious hydrangeas, roses and Casablanca lilies a la Bill Chisnell of designspace as mouth-watering courses were immaculately served by the superb staff of Lora Peluso. No sooner had we savored the last bite of our orange blossom cake than it was time for Finesse to take the stage for a little bit of rock 'n' rolling. And that's when the white gloves came off, the ties were loosened, and the hair came down as we hit the dance floor until the 12th stroke of midnight.

Bowing alphabetically were A lexandra Nicole Ashley; Natalie Lockhart Austin; Melissa Nicole Baum; Grace Marie Callahan; Elizabeth Lenzner Campanella; Karen Margaret Dawson; Elizabeth Rae Diggs (this year's scholarship winner, with 84 hours of volunteer service); Emily Dobson Ellis; Alexandra Michelle Hellberg; Elsa MacNeil Hellberg; Amy Kathryn Hilton; Kelly Casey Latterman; Lauren McPherson Laufe; Penelope Nelson Person (14th generation deb); Allison Margaret Rath; Devon Leigh Roeshot; and Katharine Elizabeth Waldman, ladies who collectively donated more than 700 volunteer hours to this year's beneficiary, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

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