Debutante Ball Goes On, Recession Be Damned!

Monday night, the annual International Debutante Ball went on as scheduled at the Waldorf, despite the recession. In fact, don’t even suggest to the ball’s defensive organiser that the economic downturn made the event irrelevant.

New York Times: The director of the ball, Margaret Hedberg, brushed off the $14,000 cost of a table — “Watches cost more,” she said — although she acknowledged that perhaps the deepening recession accounted for the smaller crowd.

“People are not going overboard,” said Mrs. Hedberg, who came out in 1963 and is the niece of the ball’s founder, Beatrice Dinsmore Joyce. “They’re not taking three or four tables and inviting everybody’s friends’ friends. It’s a little more conservative that way.”

Besides, they couldn’t cancel months’ worth of preparations because of what happened in September. And all the money attendees spent is helping people.

Mrs. Hedberg was keenly aware that the ball might seem out of step with the times, but she too pointed out that most of the women learned that they were chosen as debutantes long before the financial crisis hit. “They made their plans and sent their checks,” she said. “And I really can’t cancel it in September or October because I signed so many contracts in February with the orchestra and florist and hotel. We all didn’t quite see what was happening.”

And if all those little edible gold leaves adorning the chocolate boxes that contained plump raspberries for dessert seemed a little excessive, Mrs. Hedberg found a sunny side in the spillover effects. “There are a lot of people who make those dresses and are happy that these gals bought them,” she said. “There are a lot of waiters working tonight, so it’s doing something for the economy. Plus, it’s for charity. So we ought to have some good feelings about that. We can’t beat ourselves up about it.”

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