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Charity League Debs Take a Bow : Debbing at the Ritz

Sixteen South County debutantes stepped into the ballroom--and, at least symbolically, out into society--at the Ritz-Carlton Sunday night. The ball, sponsored by the Laguna chapter of the National Charity League, brought 270 dinner guests to the Dana Point hotel for the formal presentation of young ladies from Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel and Newport Beach.

Behind the Scenes

The ball marked the completion of six years of community service by the debs, all 18. Their mothers are founding members of the Laguna chapter of the charity league, whose purpose is to enhance mother-daughter relationships through volunteerism. Among the charities to benefit are the Orangewood Children’s Home, Meals on Wheels, the Laguna Manor residence for senior citizens and the Human Options shelter for battered women. Party organizers estimated that over the past six years, this class of debs put in a total of 4,000 hours.

“Tonight is a nice reward for the work that we’ve done,” said Kristin Hansen, whose mom, Ann Hansen, was chairwoman of the event.

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“We get to have a party because we did all the work,” agreed deb Erin Berryman. “It’s like the extra thing that’s fun.”

Behind the Scenes, Part 2

In the hours before their formal presentation, the debs dashed from the changing room to the photo room to the video room to the ballroom--up and down the plush halls of the Ritz in a flurry of poufy white gowns and muffled giggles.

Drena Johnson, fussing with daughter Nissa’s hair moments before their picture was to be taken, sighed as she gazed in the changing-room mirror: “I was just going to get something to drink when I heard: ‘Mom, come here! You’ve got to fix my hair!’ Typical, right?” Johnson with a smile. “This is my job. " (Asked where her husband was during the last-minute preparations, Johnson said: “Probably outside pacing. That’s his job.”)

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Elsewhere, the debs--looking like satin dolls--were seen munching finger sandwiches, practicing the box step with their escorts, hugging rarely seen relatives who showed up for the bash, and bemoaning the intricacies of the St. James bow (“Very scary in heels,” said deb Jill Young of the traditional deb curtsy).

The Roster

Also making their debuts were: Jody Budge, Elizabeth Gehling, Robin Geissler, Margaret Golden, Kerry Hales, Ann Karwatt, Kasey Kern, Kristin Loomis, Nicole Morin and Angela Rush, all of Laguna Beach; Deborah Hon of Laguna Niguel, and Rachel Jarrard of Newport Beach.

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Say ‘Hi! ' " said the photographer, encouraging the debs, escorts and families to smile for their formal portrait. When that didn’t work, he fished around for laugh lines. “Say ‘Happy!’ Say ‘Party! ' Say ‘Money!’ ”


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