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What A Ball: Martha Washington Society Gala

When you think High Society may be dead, or at least waning, it really is not at all. Recently in the border town of Laredo, Texas, big things were happening to show that debutantes are as lovely as ever. It turns out that The Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant & Ball was formed in 1939 and every year it just grows more popular.

The Society hosts the Colonial Ball, which is an annual debutante gala for the young women make their debut into society. The Colonial Ball, held in the city’s Civic Center, is a part of a citywide festival called the Washington's Birthday Celebration, which takes in February of each year close the to US president’s special holiday. The Society of Martha Washington helps Laredo present an image of “racial and national harmony” by working in conjunction with the Princess Pocahontas Council, and the Abrazo Children and has attendees from all over, including our Rossana Leeper who was there to report on it for us, along with other Texas notables.

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Besides doing good things for philanthropy, the society chooses two prominent members of Laredo society to don costumes to portray President George and Martha Dandridge Washington. The debutantes and their escorts who are presented either have family in the Society or are invited guests. It’s interesting to note and Membership into the Society is exclusive, yet there are no racial or ethnic discriminations and Laredo's elite consists of bi-cultural residents.

What’s it like from the audience's point of view, you may ask? The participants portray contemporaries based on the story line, which changes every year to honor the President and his First Lady. And what a spectacle it is. Each deb wears an elaborate hand made colonial dress. These dresses, of course, is over a corset, bloomers, and layers of petticoats.

Debutantes wear beautiful colonial style dress. Linda Leyendecker Gutierrez is the official dressmaker for the pageant. Yards of fabric in the grand costumes are used… silks, satins and velvets from all over the world. The intricately designed gowns are adorned with beads, lace and ribbon to create the perfect dress, weighing up to 80 pounds. All the pomp and circumstance is worth it for the debutantes and their once-in-a-lifetime experience.