PEARL RIVER, N.Y. – On February 11, over 400 members of the Ukrainian American community welcomed into society 14 young women from the New York metro area and capital region at the Chervona Kalyna Cotillion Ball held at the elegant Hilton Pearl River in Pearl River, N.Y.
The ball, known as “Vechornytsi,” is a tradition established in 1951 in New York City by members of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and military veterans who, upon emigrating to the U.S., revived the Lviv society balls of the 1920s and 1930s. Today, one of the main attractions of the ball is the presentation of debutantes, a custom begun with an impromptu introduction of young ladies in 1959.
This year’s debutantes were a group of exceptional high school juniors and seniors. They distinguish themselves academically and athletically, participate in many extracurricular activities, and give their time as volunteers and leaders in their respective communities. Most of their escorts hailed from the New York region as well, with several from as far away as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Among the honored guests of the evening were the Rev. Dr. Ivan Kaszczak, who began the formal program with an arrangement of the prayer “Otche Nash” (Our Father) sung by Ukrainian scouts, or “plastuny,” and a former Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev and his wife, Nataliya.
The debutante presentation – consisting of individual introductions and curtsies, a group dance to Pachelbel’s Canon in D and a waltz to Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Blue Danube” – was choreographed by the inestimable Ania Bohachevsky Lonkevych. As per custom, fathers, or in some cases male relatives or godfathers, of the debutantes danced part of the waltz with their daughters, while escorts, single red rose in hand, invited the mothers of the debutantes to dance.
The formal program was followed by a banquet and zabava (dance), accompanied by two bands: Fata Morgana and the New York City-based Hrim. Both ensembles provided favorite standards and new music throughout the night, which culminated with the seemingly never-ending and always fun “Kolomyika” that had everyone on their feet.
The Plast fraternities Chervona Kalyna and Khmelnychenky enjoyed their third year as joint organizers of the debutante ball. “This year’s Chervona Kalyna deb was a huge success,” said Bohdan Iwaskiw, vice-chair of the Organizing Committee. “We are now looking forward to next year’s ball.”
For more information about the Chervona Kalyna Cotillion Ball, please visit Kalynadeb.org.