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Dancing Debutantes in a Sea of Elegance


The fever was catching--all those debutante balls and teas in the last two weeks.

Seventeen young women and their families were feted at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington at the 36th annual June Debutante Ball benefiting Childrens Hospital. The night before, the Social Service Auxiliary introduced 13 presentees to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony with traditional elegance at the Presentation Ball at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

Las Madrinas introduced 38 young women holding nosegays of roses in a processional in the white-canopied garden at the Brentwood home of Sally Mogan before tea in the dining room. One of the largest classes of debs in recent years, the Las Madrinas debutantes will be presented Dec. 20 at the Las Madrinas Ball at the Beverly Hilton.

And the San Marino Area Chapter of the National Charity League held its debutante announcement tea in the Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton to fete 26 who will be presented Dec. 22 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

The atmosphere at the June Ball, hosted by the Pasadena Guild of Childrens Hospital, seemed electric. Was it the beautiful, tall crystal epergnes of roses, lilies and fern from florist Jacob Maarse and approved by Susan Seidel? Was it the marvelous dinner of poached salmon and beef? Was it West Coast Music's danceable tunes? "All of that," said President Rary Simmons. "But really it's the girls. They're all so pretty, they're enthusiastic about this party . . . and it's catching."

Two of the debutantes--Cameo McMillan and Sarah Kepner--were on back-to-back adrenaline, being presented at both the June Ball and the Presentation Ball. Deb Erin Larson took a morning psychology exam at the University of Oregon and flew in just in time to get her hair coiffed and her nails painted for the June Ball. Whitney Browne of Oklahoma City, niece of guild member and past President Kelsey Browne Hall, was happily surprised when she discovered she would be presented with a fellow University of Colorado/Boulder sophomore, Kate Kingston of San Marino, a 1997 Rose princess.

Erin Rothenberg, a Yale student, circled the dance floor on the arm of her father, Jim Rothenberg, president of Capital Guardian Trust. Kim Krell's eyes sparkled (she attends Vanderbilt) as she paraded with father Dick Krell. Lindsey Yukiko Sasaki, a Pomona College student, and her parents hosted three lively dance-all-night tables. Other debs frolicking: Allison Barnum, Crosby Cameron, Megan Dillavou, Sarina Hinson, Katherine Kingston, DeEtte Laugharn, Summers Newell, Jill Thomas and Tara Watford. Deb Maryann Baribault was presented in absentia because she chose to attend her brother's Stanford graduation. She's an Olympics hopeful in the luge.

Not a single one faltered in curtseys--four each--around the room on the arm of a father or grandfather. And all seemed expert in the waltz when the orchestra played "True Love." Then the escorts cut in, followed by the eager group of stags.

According to guild President Dolly Eddington, the group is in its second year of a three-year goal to raise $1 million for the hospital's adolescent medicine program.

A processional of Knights of Malta and members of other Catholic orders accompanied the Presentation Ball fanfare. The cardinal placed a medallion on debutantes Ariana Berger, Jennifer Dove, Emily Olsen, Simone Porter, Kristin Iino, Christiana Purdy, Elisabeth Salz, Gretchen Learman, Kelly Dwyer, Megan Tunnell, Cynthia Webb, and Kepner and McMillan. At the Las Madrinas tea, all the flowers were arranged by hostess Sally Mogan, who, with husband Rick, will spend the summer at their Jackson Hole, Wyo., home. She ordered the day before, and then picked up bundles of posies at the flower mart and arranged pink roses and lavender sweet peas set with the watercress sandwiches and tea cookies, the silver coffee and tea urns at either end of the table.

The debutantes come from families noted for their civic care and financial commitment to Childrens Hospital. All will attend college in the fall, and some will be hands-on hospital volunteers this summer in research laboratories, the child life playroom and at children's bedsides.

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