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26 Make Las Madrinas Debuts

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The white satin gloves were high above the elbows, the white gowns gleamed and billowed and 26 young ladies curtsied at the elegant Las Madrinas Debutante Ball Friday in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.

Las Madrinas president Janice Carpenter, wearing a Michael Novarese gown and attending with her husband, Robert Hudson Carpenter, welcomed 900 white-tie guests to “Christmas a L’Orangerie.” Arrangements of roses and holly designed by ball chairman Carlotta Keely and Walter Huber of Silver Birches were everywhere.

At the podium, escorted by Thomas Techentin and Stephen Keller, Janice Carpenter spoke of traditions and old ties. “It has been said that Los Angeles does not have many traditions; I would like to point out that Stephen Keller was my escort as a debutante 26 years ago.”

She also referred to Las Madrinas’ commitment of $3 million to the Las Madrinas Program of Molecular Pathology at Childrens Hospital. And she paid tribute to the memory of Mary Duque, a former Las Madrinas president whose 40 years of volunteer service to the hospital led to hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. “She was the best, the best, the best.”

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The joy and pride of parents stole the night. Fathers circled the dance floor with daughters as the audience applauded the curtsies. Stunning look-alikes included Jennifer Davidson and her father Garrison, Elizabeth Hillman and father Richard, Kathleen LeRoy and father Michael and Barbara McBain and father Angus. Peter O’Malley had daughter Katherine on his arm; she looks like her mother, Annette.

It was a night for amazing presentation gowns: Margaret Hayden in lace and Jessica Davis in embroidered loveliness. It was also a night for biggest smiles--Kelsey Wegge, Alexandra Foley, Rebecca Langan, Gabrielle Porter and Anna Kathryn Ratkovich. Katherine Harahan caught the giggles.

If curtsy awards were given for grace, Francesca Toberman could have competed. Stephanie Chandler and Jennifer Ryan might have won awards for cutest proud fathers, and Erin Browne and her father for best waltzers.

In the audience, Sally Somers of Balboa (formerly of Los Angeles) watched two granddaughters appear--Katrina Hanson and Laurie Somers. Also with families in the audience were Allison Adams (first to be announced), Kathryn Cooper, Laura Johnson, Margaret O’Keefe, Katherine Peterson, Jennifer Pinckert and Dana Richards.

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