The Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant And Ball Presents Debutantes
By Jake Gaines
Photography by Rodolfo Guzman
THE SCENE: Laredo’s festive debutante ball in honor of Washington’s Birthday is always a momentous occasion in South Texas, and this year was no exception. The most esteemed denizens arrived en masse to celebrate the decades-old South Texas tradition of the Colonial Pageant and Ball, hosted by The Society of Martha Washington.
THE VIBE: The Colonial Ball, where the girls debuted in elaborate Colonial era dresses, was held in the Laredo’s Civic Center. Part of the citywide festival of Washington’s Birthday Celebration, the Colonial Ball takes place each year near the first U.S. President’s special holiday. The Society of Martha Washington raises Laredo’s image of “racial and national harmony” by working in conjunction with the Princess Pocahontas Council and the Abrazo Children, and also boasts notable attendees from all over Texas. Betty Ann Bunn Moreno serves as the president of The Society of Martha Washington, Veronica Castillon is the president of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration and Linda Leyendecker Gutierrez is the designer of the colonial dresses. One of this year’s debutantes, Alegra Volpe, was also feted, where guests enjoyed the festivities until the wee hours of the morning.
THE CAUSE: In addition to its philanthropic aspect, the organization chooses two prominent members of Laredo society to don costumes to portray President George and Martha Dandridge Washington. This year, President George and Martha Washington were portrayed by Gabriel C. Castillo and Melissa Cantu Cigarroa. The debutantes and their escorts are all members of families in The Society of Martha Washington, or receive special distinguished invitations. Membership in the Society is exclusive, yet there is no racial or ethnic discrimination. The Society is supported by Laredo’s elite group of bi-cultural residents, who work in tandem with their committees to produce each year’s extravaganza.