Having organized more charity balls than she can remember, Alyce de Roulet Williamson knows a thing or two about making an entrance. Over the years, she's dressed up as the Snow Queen, Peter Pan, Carmen Miranda, Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn, and in 1996, she donned tails to conduct the national anthem on the opening night of the Pasadena Symphony season.
But she'll never top her arrival at the Pasadena Symphony Ball 2000 on Saturday--on the back of 16-year-old Murphy, unflappable equine veteran of L.A. Opera productions. He wasn't quite the dashing steed she'd hoped for (she'd been advised that the gray Percheron she'd envisioned would never make it through the doors). So reliable old Murph got the glamour treatment, with a blanket of fresh white gardenias and non-skid hoof caps. As Art Deco's orchestra struck up "Mame," Williamson entered riding sidesaddle in a black Escada ball gown. She gingerly ducked chandeliers and gallantly blew kisses to the flabbergasted crowd.
After two turns around the ballroom, she dismounted and whispered to me with relief, "I love horses, but I think Murphy wants to get out of here . . . and I wanted to get off!"
Why the dramatic entrance?
Williamson was the evening's guest of honor, chosen for her longtime commitment to the symphony (she's served on the board since 1991 and has generated $50,000 a year in donations).