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Fashions change but friendship always in style

St. Petersburg debutantes gathered at the annual coffee that brings the young women together for the first time.

Courtesy of Georgia Mattern

St. Petersburg debutantes gathered at the annual coffee that brings the young women together for the first time.


Fifty-eight years ago Katrina Kaufhold wore short, white gloves to the spring coffee honoring the new crowd of debutantes. Thirty-two years ago her daughter, Kristin Georgevich, wore hose to the same affair when she was a debutante. Fashions have changed.

Last week at the annual coffee, 18 new debs had bare hands and legs, but they still embraced the same traditions of making new friends and learning more about their community.

Since 1937, the St. Petersburg Debutante club has invited women finishing their freshman year in college to enjoy a series of parties and be presented at a ball the following December. They also perform a community service project. There were scrapbooks from years gone by in the sun room at the home of Marion Ballard, who hosted this year's coffee.

Jackie Piper found herself in a 1957 photo among the debs wearing hoop skirts during a rehearsal.

"We got a feel for how to move around in it," she laughed. "The nice thing though, my daughter is taller than I am so she could wear the same dress without the hoop." The scrapbook included a color picture of the 1963 debutantes with bouffant hairstyles posing in sleeveless shifts, pearls and heels on St. Pete Beach.

Katie Kennedy, a deb in the late 1980s who was at the coffee, has noticed the fashions have definitely gotten more casual and even the presentation gowns less formal. One tradition she's glad has remained is the girls picking a song that's special to them that's played as they are presented. Her song, All the Things You Are was written by Oscar Hammerstein and composed by Jerome Kern, a close friend of her grandfather's.

"He also wrote Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. That didn't really work for the occasion," Kennedy laughed.

As the girls were introduced to the group of past and new debutantes, the club's president, Shane Smith, named their college and major. The list included architecture, integrated marketing, engineering, pre-med, fine arts, finance, nursing and bioengineering.

"That's different," Georgevich said. "At that point (when she was a deb) I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do."

The 2017 debutantes are:

Taylor Allweiss, daughter of Janet and Michael Alweiss, University of Alabama, telecommunications; Erin Bennett, daughter of Janice and Phillip Bennett, Tallahassee Community College; Nikita Bundschu, daughter of Claudia and Richard Bundschu, University of Miami, pre-med; Katelin Carroll, daughter of Janet and Michael Carroll, University of Florida, accounting; Burchie Ellinger, daughter of Burchie and Emery Ellinger III, University of Mississippi, integrated marketing communications; Blanchard Fagan, daughter of Jocelyn and Peter Fagan, University of Florida, architecture; Bryce Fagan, daughter of Jocelyn and Peter Fagan, University of Florida, history and pre-law; Lauren Fox, daughter of Ashley and Jeffrey Fox, Florida State University, family and child sciences; Megan Freedman, daughter of Jeffrey Freedman and Amy Lettelleir, University of Florida; Kaitlyn Hanna, daughter of Cara and Lee Hanna, Wake Forest University; Allison Hellier, daughter of David Hellier Jr. and Katherine Galaher, University of Florida, English; Blair Kennedy, daughter of Kim and Blake Kennedy, Florida School of the Arts, fine arts; Meredith Little, daughter of Martha and Jerry Little, University of Florida, criminology and law; Ellen McMullen, daughter of Susan and Steven McMullen, Rice University, bioengineering, ecology and evolutionary biology; Bailee McQueen, daughter of Nikki and John McQueen, University of Tampa, musical theatre; Jenna McQueen, daughter of Ria and William McQueen, University of Florida, biology; Taylor Nelson, daughter of Thomas Nelson Jr. and the late Nancy Pate-Nelson, University of Alabama, commerce, business and fine arts and Caroline Stroud, daughter of Celeste and Mark Stroud, University of Florida, nursing.

Fashions change but friendship always in style 05/25/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 25, 2017 2:34pm]
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