Queen LeighAnna Virginia Morris to preside over the 117th Holly Ball
, 2014

Queen LeighAnna Virginia Morris
to preside over the 117th Holly Ball

Queen LeighAnna Virginia Morris will preside over the seasonal festivities celebrating the 117th Holly Ball.

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Northumberland County debutantes, from left, are Halle Keyser, Taylor O’Bier, Elizabeth Rogers, Diane Kelly, Sarah Hall and Sarah Kelly. Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

The Holly Ball originated in 1895 and began operating as the fundraising arm of the Tidewater Foundation in the 1950s, explained publicity chairman Patricia Gallagher. The foundation anticipates the proceeds of the 2012 Holly Ball will have a far-reaching impact in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

As reigning Holly Ball Queen, Miss Morris will act as the official hostess of the gala fundraiser. The Morris family has chosen Rep. Rob Wittman to serve as the orator for the ball.

Celebratory events leading up to the Holly Ball are steeped in tradition and preserve the legacy of the foundation’s philanthropic mission. Queen Morris and her parents hosted a holiday dance at Waterview for the debutantes, their escorts and special guests.

The custom of crowning a Holly Ball queen originates from the first Holly Ball, when John Armistead Palmer, host of the holiday dance, was so impressed by the conviviality of the company and the spirit of the season that he pinned a sprig of holly in the hair of one of the attendees, proclaiming, “I crown thee, Queen Cora, Empress of the Holly Realm!” The dance was such a success that it became an annual event each year featuring the coronation of a queen.

In the early days, queens were gifted each year with ownership of a magnificent and old holly tree on Good Luck Road. While the tree still stood, newly crowned queens often visited the tree after the ball with their escorts to carve their initials. The tree succumbed to a storm in the 1950s.

Miss Morris is the 116th young woman to be honored as Holly Ball Queen. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Hart Morris IV of Warsaw. A student at the University of Virginia, she studies Italian, music and speech pathology. She is an officer in Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority and the UVA Flying V’s a cappella group.

The Holly Ball will be held at 7 p.m. December 28 at the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club. The presentation of debutantes will begin at 8 p.m. with a grand processional and will be followed by an oratory and a figure, or dance pattern, of colonial origins performed by the debutantes and their escorts. At 9 p.m., guests pay tribute to former debutantes.

At 10 p.m., the new queen, chosen by all in attendance, will be crowned by Rep. Wittman. Dancing with the Kings of Swing will continue to midnight.

The committee reminds participants that underage alcohol usage is not condoned by the committee at the ball and related state laws will be enforced. All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Tickets must be purchased in advance, said Gallagher.

The Tidewater Foundation and Committee of the Holly Ball are grateful to the community for its tremendous support and enthusiastic attendance and to the many businesses who quietly support the ball, making many gifts to the community possible, she said.

To donate to the foundation, write the Tidewater Foundation, Po.O. Box 363, Irvington, VA 22485. Include full name and mailing address.

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