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CU's 2014 Phoenix Ball shines

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Party-goers will remember the 2014 Phoenix Ball as one for the ages.

The countdown to Wilson County’s most glamorous and talked about affair began with a rocking Patron’s Party on Thursday evening. The party this year was hosted by Henry Drilling and Pumps, Inc. owner Brandon Allen, and his wife, Linlee, of Ava Mac Designs.

The Patrons’ Party was open to guests of the Phoenix Ball, as well as other Cumberland University supporters in the community who could not attend the ball. Guests enjoyed festive food and drinks and danced the night away to tunes by Super T and the Tyrone Smith Revue.

A-Plus Print and Design owners Ryan and Monica Alsup attended the party and called it “an absolute success.”

“The Allens completely outdid themselves. Everyone who attended the party raved on and on about how awesome this year was. The Super T Band was outstanding and kept everyone on their feet,” Monica noted.

On Saturday, guests began to arrive for the Phoenix Ball at Cumberland University around 5:30 p.m. Each dapper couple made their way down the tent-covered sidewalk and into Memorial Hall, where a cocktail reception was held.

Most of the male attendees kept it classic in tuxedos. However, a few gentlemen added color to their attire with ties. Agee & Johnson Auctioneer Jay White, who conducted the live auction, wore a pale yellow tie with his suit, while Cumberland University President Dr. Harvill Eaton proudly represented the school with a cardinal-colored bowtie.

Black was a favorite color of the night for ladies. Beauty Boutique owner Necole Bell and Pat Bryant, widow of Cumberland Board Member the late Dr. Joe F. Bryant, both looked stunning in gowns with sheer black lace overlays. Maggie Lea stood out in her strapless black gown by adding layered necklaces and a small birdcage veil.

When it came to color, none was more eye-catching than the fiery orange gown worn by Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto’s wife, Paula. The brunette beauty accessorized her attire with glittering hoop earrings.

Short dresses were also a trend at this year’s Phoenix Ball with ladies including Monica Alsup, Linlee Allen, Andrea Wilke, Sue Vanatta, Dakota Weatherford, Whitney Swain, Helene Cash, Kirsten Harris and Ashley Butler raising hemlines.

Guests sipped cocktails and browsed the silent auction, which included sparkling items donated by The Jewelers, Crystal Couture Store and Tina Brady’s Music City Bling line. Other notable items included a private sports training package offered by Cumberland, tickets to Symphony on the Lawn and a chance to toss the coin at a Bulldogs football game.

At 7 o’clock, guests were ushered into the Dallas Floyd Gymnasium for dinner, dancing and a live auction. Chairman of the University’s Board of Trust Bob McDonald welcomed everyone to the 31st annual ball and said that Cumberland has been successful for 172 years “because of people like you.”

Cumberland student singers Melody Myers and Jordan Parker performed “Think of Me” from “Phantom of the Opera” and received a standing ovation from attendees before dinner was served and the live auction could begin.

The live auction offered several unique items which raised funds for the school’s transition from the NAIA to the NCAA, including a baseball jersey and ball signed by Coach Woody Hunt and his third NAIA Championship winning team which sold for $1,600 to David Petty.

An ultimate sports fan package sold for $4,000 to Dr. Aaron Pryor and a President’s Dinner at the Winston Payne Bone House sold for $3,000 to Michael Moscardelli.

Camille Burdine, of the CU Alumni House, said that the silent auction ended up raising an additional $30,000. “We do not have the final figures year,” she added.

“I thought the ball went great this year,” said Assistant Athletic Director Meredith McDowell. “The money raised this year will go towards athletics at Cumberland. The Ball was perfect timing to celebrate athletics since our baseball team just won the NAIA World Series.”

Lebanon’s Dr. Mark Kent also commented on the success of the event. “I was honored to play a small role in the annual celebration of Cumberland University, not only as a member of our local community but also a beacon of outstanding higher education.”

Maggie Lea added, “Cumberland will have a hard time topping this year’s ball but I always say that – and then they always do.”

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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