Cinderella’s 96th Ball at the Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley was magical
At the 96th Cinderella Ball on May 28, event chairs Kelly Waldman and Courtney Elizabeth Benson each touched a magic wand to light up a pumpkin – turning the Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley into a fairytale scene.
On a warm spring evening, debutantes in white dresses and wearing long white gloves were introduced to society. In traditional cotillion style, the young girls grasped their father’s or presenter’s hand, bowed and walked the length of the ballroom in front of 245 invited family and friends.
Moments after William Robinson Engel was announced as Prince Charming (a closely guarded secret until that evening), his younger brother, John August Engel, carefully held a glass slipper perched on a padded pillow as he waited for the card. of visit that Prince Charming would choose among the pumpkins.
Shady Side Academy graduate William Robinson Engel is a rising senior at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, studying psychology and neuroscience. He is the son of F. August and Annie Hanna Engel.
William Robinson Engel selected Sarah Mellon Scaife’s business card. Scaife is the granddaughter of former Trib Total Media owner Richard Scaife.
He took her hand and they danced a waltz.
“It’s like a classic fairy tale,” said Shady Side Academy senior Sarah Mellon Scaife. “I will remember this moment for the rest of my life. I almost fainted when they announced my name. I just can’t put it into words.
Scaife said being part of the Cinderella Ball was a way of honoring her late aunt, Jennie King Scaife, who was a debutante in 1982.
The family tradition of the Cinderella Ball is one of the reasons Waldman, of Fox Chapel, and Benson, of Pine, wanted to co-chair. They recalled the amazing night they were debutants at the 81st Cinderella Ball in 2007.
Waldman’s mother, Diane, serves on the board of the Cinderella Women’s Committee.
Benson and her two young daughters, Brinsley Grace and Blakelyn – future debutantes – were dressed in adorable ball gowns and danced the night away with their parents.
The Cinderella Ball is Pittsburgh’s oldest fundraiser and one of the oldest debutante balls in the United States.
Last year’s event was moved from January 2021 to June 2021 due to the pandemic. It took place at the Allegheny Country Club, which can accommodate both indoor and outdoor sets.
For more than two decades, it was held at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.
After Prince Charming and Cinderella danced, the debutantes and their fathers performed a waltz followed by the grand march.
Dinner was served a little after 8 p.m.
Guests dined in the club’s indoor and outdoor spaces with the plush green fairways visible as a backdrop. Sparkling chandeliers hung from tents and towering flower arrangements with beautiful Jeff Donati roses on pedestals adorned every table.
All dances took place inside the historic ballroom.
“All the debs worked great,” Waldman said. “It’s like coming full circle for me, being a deb and now co-hosting the event. There are so many wonderful memories that I will never forget.
Benson said the evening was perfect.
“I’m on another planet right now,” she said. “These girls will go on to do great things. Cinderella’s Ball is for all debutantes – past, present and future – who will share this bond forever.
This bond was formed in 2019 for Francesca Zocco Scragg, a senior at Quaker Valley, when her older sister Izabella was introduced. The girls’ 3-year-old cousin, Lucia, attended both girls’ debutante balls and they took pictures which they plan to show her when she debuts.
“I feel like I’m carrying on the legacy,” Francesca Zocco Scragg said.
Vivian Catherine Davison, a senior at The Ellis School, said it was important to share this night with the lovely ladies she would never have met if she hadn’t been to the ball. She said she was happy they could celebrate in person.
“I’ve been looking forward to this night since I was a little girl,” said Shady Side Academy senior Ava Caroline Kronman. “It’s amazing to be a part of this and to be with family and friends after not being together for so long. The timing is perfect.”
The whole Cinderella Ball experience was more than she could have imagined, said Shady Side Academy senior Emma Josephine Lammert.
“The volunteer work was great, and this prom is the best way to end our senior year,” she said.
Katherine Sandra Appleman, a senior at Shady Side Academy, said she was grateful for the opportunity to work with a community of supportive women.
“They’ve been there for me,” she said. “They inspired me to do more volunteer work and the importance of helping others.”
Beginners are required to do a minimum of 30 volunteer hours each with the recipient. The young women spent more than 300 hours at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in Highland Park. In addition to the zoo, they filled backpacks with school supplies at the Pittsburgh Field Club for children transitioning between foster families. The bags were donated to the Foster Love Project. They spent time at several other charities through the Young Women’s Leadership Forum, which launched in 2020. The first-timers attended networking events with guest speakers and refresher training professional.
The women’s committee awards a scholarship to the debutante who has contributed the most volunteer hours to the beneficiary. There were two because each volunteered 63 hours – Scaife and Hailey Morgan Flaherty.
Flaherty, a senior at Shady Side Academy, said volunteering was a fun and unique experience and she learned a lot about animals, even snakes.
“I am honored to receive this scholarship,” Flaherty said. “And to spend this wonderful evening with my family and my friends and the other beginners who have become my friends. I will always come back to this night with tenderness.
A car decorated with fresh flowers was unveiled towards the end of the night. As guests entered the event, they passed a wall of colorful Day of Rentals flowers that were not only decorative, but a hotspot for capturing photo memories and selfies.
The emcee was Charles R. Altman, who grew up in Fox Chapel and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. He spent eight years as a puppet prince on Tuesday in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Dinner consisted of beef tenderloin and sea scallop prepared by the club’s executive chef, Dustin Bates. The Rick Purcell Big Band entertained guests as they dined and afterwards the John Parker Band welcomed everyone to the dance floor. There was a spectacular Zambelli fireworks show at 10pm and then more dancing until the stroke of midnight.
The zoo will be the 2023 beneficiary. The 97th Ball will be held June 18, 2023 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland.