The practice of presenting young women to society in this country dates back to the mid-eighteenth century when colonial families held Dancing Assemblies, the predecessor to the Debutante Ball. The presentation marked the beginning of the young lady’s adulthood; and, she typically danced the first dance of the night with her father. It is, perhaps, for these reasons that the young ladies came to be called “debutantes,” a word that stems from the French word “debuter,” which means to “begin” or “lead off.” Debutante charity balls flourished in the 1940’s and 1950’s and are currently held in nearly every major U.S. city, primarily during the months of November and December.
The first Presentation Ball was sponsored by the ICCW on December 29, 1958, to celebrate Catholic traditions, raise money for the poor and inspire its young participants to sustain the Club’s commitment to compassion and social service. Notably, Mrs. Frank J. Lewis served as Honorary Chairman, Mrs. W. Lydon Wild and Mrs. Maurice Frank served as Co-Chairmen. With the inspiration of Mrs. John Connery and her daughter Nancy, the Presentation Ball received its name in order to signify the presentation of young ladies to His Eminence, Albert Cardinal Meyer.
The Presentation Ball is currently the ICCW’s central fundraiser and the forum at which over 1,400 young ladies have been welcomed by family, friends and the Catholic community into a world of civic responsibility and awareness.
The ICCW’s rich heritage is accentuated at each Ball with the use of the traditional lace hand fan and the Presentation Ball Emblem (Dancing Dolly). Both were used at the first Presentation Ball in 1958 and in every Ball thereafter.
Our Ball traditionally incorporates the rose as its classic nature represents the beauty and promise of the Christmas season and symbolizes respect, generosity, courage and of course, love.
Since 1958, on the night of the Ball, each of 1,200 debutantes has received a Papal Medallion as an exquisitely special gift from our Holy Father.