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Queen Robbins to preside over 114th Holly Ball

Queen Abigail Leigh Robbins is preparing to preside over the seasonal festivities celebrating the 114th Holly Ball. The Holly Ball, the Northern Neck’s oldest traditional Yuletide event, originated in 1895 and began operating as the fund-raising arm of the Tidewater Foundation in the 1950s. The Tidewater Foundation anticipates the proceeds of the 2009 Holly Ball will have a far-reaching impact on the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula communities, as it disperses funds to a diverse group of their recipients.

As reigning Holly Ball Queen, Miss Robbins will act as the official hostess of the Tidewater Foundation’s gala fundraiser. The Robbins family has chosen Congressman Robert Wittman to serve as the orator of the 114th Holly Ball.

The celebratory events leading up to the Holly Ball are steeped in tradition and preserve the legacy of the Tidewater Foundation’s philanthropic mission. The invitational Queen’s Ball, hosted by reigning Queen Robbins and her parents, was held on Friday, November 27, at Festival Hall in Reedville for the debutantes, their dates and special guests. 

The custom of crowning a Holly Ball queen originates from a flight of fancy at the first Holly Ball. 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 of the Holly Ball, queens were gifted each year with ownership of a magnificent and old holly tree, once standing 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. This beautiful feat of nature succumbed to a storm in the 1950s, and modern queens commemorate the experience using less spectacular means.

Miss Abigail Leigh Robbins is the 114th young woman to be honored as Holly Ball Queen. She is a student at Longwood University and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Stoneham Robbins of White Stone.

The Holly Ball will be held on Monday, December 28, at Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club in Kilmarnock at 7 p.m. 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.

Anticipation continues to build until 10 p.m. when the new queen, chosen by all in attendance, will be crowned by the orator, Congressman Wittman. Dancing music by the “Kings of Swing” continues until midnight. 

The Holly Ball Committee wishes that everyone enjoys the festivities but reminds those who will be attending that the committee does not condone underage alcohol usage at the ball and that the state law concerning minimum age limits for the consumption of alcohol will be enforced. This delightful Christmas event is enjoyed by families in the spirit of philanthropy, tradition and the holiday spirit. All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

As always, 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.

For ticket information, contact Anna Ransone at (804) 435-3911.

posted 12.16.2009

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