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Column: The Crowd: 2018 debutantes make their debuts

The 2018 Newport Chapter of National Charity League Debutants. (Courtesy of Gilmore Studios)
The 2018 Newport Chapter of National Charity League Debutantes.
( Photo courtesy of Gilmore Studios)

The 2018 winter debutante ball produced by the Newport Chapter of National Charity League Inc. welcomed 400 guests to Hotel Irvine for the formal presentation of 29 young women graduating from a six-year program fostering “mother-daughter relationships through community service, leadership development and cultural experiences,” according to Jennifer Brown, NCL debutante publicity chairwoman.

Marking the culmination of a collective 8,000 hours of volunteer service by the 29 graduates to many local philanthropic endeavors in the Newport-Mesa community, the debutante ball marks a milestone in the lives of the young ladies and their families. Many of the graduates are also legacies, following their mothers, grandmothers and other family members on the traditional journey to their final St. James bow in a floor-length white gown.

Mara Hampton, president of the Newport Chapter of NCL, joined with debutante ball director Becky Scanlan, assistant director Jennifer Norminton and a dedicated committee of mothers to create the sentimental send-off. The debutantes graduated high school in 2018, many with high honors and impressive GPAs. They now attend Stanford, UC Berkeley, Brown, UCLA, Notre Dame and other universities.

In grand style, the Hotel Irvine ballroom was transformed into an elegant Old World setting with floral designs created by Elegant By Design. The society orchestra fronted by Jay Sterling serenaded the crush of black ties and white gowns on the dance floor. This followed the formal parade of debs on the arms of fathers and/or other important figures in each young woman’s life. Each deb was introduced, took her bow to the applause (and tears) of family and friends and then took the arms of her escort. They shined beneath the glow of the spotlight on the dance floor as dinner service began.


Dedicated mothers making the evening a success were Sara Benson, Laura Booth, Jennifer Brown, Becky Chanawatr, Teryn Clarke, Gina Donald, Reesa Emadi, Renee Gregg, Ali Jones, Catherine Kennett, Donna McAllister, Regina McLaughlin, Teri Pitchess and Cindy Valdes.

The 2018 class of NCL debutantes includes Allison Barnes, Kate Briggs, Paxton Bryant, Betsy Calder, Daniella Daboub, Christina Davenport, Isabella Deckey, Sarah Duarte, Makenzie Frank, Raleigh Garner, Tia Grippo, Gwendolyn Hart, Blair Hodges, Parker Hoffman, Eva Merrell, Lauren Merrell, Kate Montgomery, Claire Neushul, Layne Owen, Annie Pellegrini, Elizabeth Prado, Chloe Rettig, Emery Rolfes, Mackenzie Storm, Paige Warmington, Rylee Warmington, Tristen Warmington, Danielle Willson and Ellie Yacoel.

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.