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Phoenix Ball, wardrobes delight

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Wow - is quite possibly the only expression to accurately describe the 33rd annual Phoenix Ball at Cumberland University.

The event, presented by Custom Packaging, was held Saturday, June 4, and did not disappoint from start to finish. Guests began arriving at the Midsummer Night's Dream themed soiree just past 5 o'clock in the evening.

The handsome couples stepped out of their vehicles - valet sponsored by Beauty Boutique - and onto the entrance walk where they stopped for photographs.

More than 300 ticketholders were greeted at the doors of Cumberland's Memorial Hall by "fairies" and ushered into a cocktail reception in Baird Chapel before dinner began at 7 p.m. in the Dallas Floyd Gymnasium.

Although the Dallas Floyd Gymnasium, completely transformed, was breathtaking - it was the gorgeous gowns of the evening that truly stopped the show.

Jewel-toned gowns were a popular choice for the night with Necole Bell, Amber Hurdle and Angel Kane wearing emerald green, deep sapphire and pink/amethyst ball gowns, respectively. Kim Edwards, escorted by her husband Ray, also stunned in royal blue.

Black gowns were another beautiful option with Tasha Irby, Pam Black, Paula Hutto, Maggie Lea, Liz Johnson, Darlene Craighead, Ginny Patterson, Heather Landers, Melanie Minter, Pat Bryant and Susie James in different designs featuring the hue.

And, of course, there were many pops of color. Variations of red were worn by Cristy Stumb, Stephanie Walker, Mallory Cook Maxwell and Camille Burdine - and Lucy Lee topped her coral number with a beautiful statement necklace. Rachel Deffendall, escorted by husband David, also wore a coral gown. Stephanie Hubner, escorted by husband Ray, looked lovely in yellow.

A few ladies opted for short formalwear - including Susan McDonald, escorted by husband and Cedarstone Bank President Bob, Leslie Steele and Lindsay Smith, escorted by husband and The Jewelers owner Shawn.

The ladies were not the only ones to make fashion statements - The Wilson Post saw dapper-gents Mark Lee, Eric Thompson, Larry Hubbard and Scott Jasper. Mayor Randall Hutto wore a green bowtie and Lebanon Police Chief Mike Justice was in his dress blues.

Lebanon City Council Member Rob Cesternino wore a white bowtie which perfectly accented his wife Leah's white gown. Another couple, Scott and Kirsten Harris, looked great in black and white.

Cumberland University Professor Rick Bell welcomed guests to the Phoenix Ball and introduced Cumberland University President Dr. Paul Stumb.

Stumb kept his comments short so that folks could get back to "socializing." Phoenix Ball Committee Chairs Michael and Katy Moscardelli shared a few words and then an invocation was given by Rev. Mike Ripski.

The five-course dinner included: Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits; Mixed Field Green Salad with Hot Bacon Mango Dressing; Cucumber Avocado Gazpacho; Caprese Grilled Filet Mignon with Balsamic Glaze paired with Basil Parmesan Potato Tart and Trim Top Carrots; and Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Lemon Marmalade paired with Macaroons and Fresh Berries for dessert.

The auction portion of the evening raised $37,000 for Cumberland University. A mink coat donated by Dr. William Heydel was the highest-earning item of the night at $8,000. Prior to the event, $130,000 had been raised through sponsors. A complete list of sponsors is available online.

The Patrons' Party, sponsored by The Venue at 109 - A Carroll Homes Development - is scheduled to be held Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Arcade. Tickets are still available for $150 per person online at

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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Cumberland University, event, formal, fund-raiser, Phoenix Ball
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