It was as though shimmering snowflakes made their way through the windows of the Grand Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton on Dec. 21, 2016, the evening of the 59th Annual Presentation Ball sponsored by the Illinois Club for Catholic Women (ICCW).
“It was hands down the most amazing experience I ever had,” says Grace Glyman, one of several debutantes from Lake Forest. “I loved being able to bond with different girls from different schools around the North Shore and, at the same time, be able to rekindle relationships with girls I had known when I was younger.”
The dance floor was awash in white, thanks to the exquisite alabaster-hued gowns worn by the young women comprising the 2016 Presentation Ball debutante class: Glyman, Lauren Abbattista, Alida Blendonohy, Lisa Clair, Haley Click, Isabelle Haser, Sarah Hershenhorn, Julia Kariotis, Jane Margolis, Maura McClintic, Ashley Mullarkey, Mary O’Malley, Mary Oelerich, Chloe Penn, Katherine Perry, Catherine Petersen, Elizabeth Petersen, Margaret Petersen, Anne Polito, Hannah Sandner-Gialamas, Eleanor Sherman, Bria Slobodnik, Sarah Staley, Emma Walsh, and Corinne White.
In addition to these twenty-five ladies making their debut, esteemed guests included His Eminence, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and Reverend Monsignor Michael M. Boland, Administrator, President, and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joining these honorees and honorable leaders were family, dear friends, post-debutantes of all ages (who, wearing black gowns, walk in an introductory procession at the start of each ball), and board and general members of the Illinois Club for Catholic Women.
Each debutante also is granted two special invitations designated for the male escorts who will accompany her that evening. Often family members themselves (a much-deserved nod of gratitude here to all the loving and dutiful big brothers of the North Shore) or close friends, the escorts not only join the women in the ball’s choreographed dance formations but in the social and service opportunities that take place leading up to the big night.
Though the Presentation Ball is dedicated to glamour—with dapper gentlemen in black-tie and their equally elegant dates in attendance, dining and dancing to the harmonies of the Stanley Paul Orchestra—the ICCW is distinguished by a devotion to service, supporting numerous charities such as Aid for Women, Catholic Charities, and the House of the Good Shepherd. Responsible for welcoming over one thousand young ladies into a world of civic responsibility and awareness since the Presentation Ball’s inception in 1958, the celebration is the organization’s principal fundraiser.
Founded by Julia Deal Lewis in 1921 at the request of His Eminence George Cardinal Mundelein, the Illinois Club for Catholic Women is a nonprofit organization that offers service and relief to the poor, the distressed, and the underprivileged in the Chicago metropolitan area.
“Doing community service together was definitely something to bond over,” adds Glyman. “Being able to meet the Monsignor and Cardinal was also an eye-opening experience for my faith life.”
This special evening is sure to last long in the memories of these admirable women, instilling in them a sense of community, compassion, and care—and certainly some marvelous new moves.
“The Presentation Ball means so much to so many,” says Colette LeBrun, ICCW board member and 2016 Debutante Committee Chairman. “From board members, many of whom are past debutantes, and husbands who once were ball escorts, to those young women who have debuted over the past decade—we all come back with our families and friends to celebrate the Christmas season and, with it, the next Presentation Ball. The entire experience—its history, tradition, and elegance—sings in our hearts every December.”