Last Saturday’s 31st rendition of Cumberland University’s Phoenix Ball was both magical and a “Game Changer,” as the theme indicated.
Held in Baird’s Chapel in Memorial Hall with a cocktail reception and silent auction, the 200 guests mingled, drank cocktails from the bar, ate hors d’oeuvres and checked out the dozens of items offered for auction.
The types of items were a big change from previous years. The bid process changed last year to an all-electronic process and continued this year. It featured bids from smartphones and university representatives taking bids entered on tablets.
The overall total raised through the silent and live auctions was reportedly around $30,000, and the live auction drew $10,600 on its own.
Decorations throughout Memorial Hall and the Dallas Floyd Gym consisted of sports themes in recognition of Cumberland joining the NCAA, a historic move that’s expected to be confirmed in July.
At 7 p.m., the guests started the short trek under canopied walkways from Baird’s Chapel to the gym for the next step in the events for the evening. As they approached the gym, it was apparent there were also changes galore in the dress from the year before. As the ladies passed in their beautiful gowns, it became obvious the “red carpet” of the 31st Phoenix Ball stood up to the standards of any major “red carpet” premieres anywhere.
As in years past when one color dominated, there didn’t seem to be one this time around. There were more strapless gowns worn than ever before. Long gowns outnumbered short and mini dresses, some of them with train effects that swept the floor in the back.
Camille Burdine, a Cumberland staffer, wowed the crowd with her black-and-white creation that featured a strapless bodice, fitted waist and long trained skirt that appeared to be fitted down below the knees and then flared with layers of chiffon from the knees to the floor.
After dinner when the music started for dancing, Burdine suddenly appeared in a mini dress. She had removed the long skirt and could now spend the rest of the evening dancing without fighting the long skirt.
Multi-colored gowns did reign. Gowns in a creamy beige or tan backgrounds with everything from roses to geometric designs and prints of various objects scattered throughout the dress were seen all around the room. Other hues, like salmon, royal blue, various shades of purple and lavender, greens, light to hot pinks, reds, blacks and black/white and beiges, could be seen.
One particular gown that fell into the newly creative, but practical category was a beautiful gown that featured a black halter top with a low cut V-neck from which flowed a skirt of many blended colors. None of the stays that are back in style were in this dress, making it a relaxed gown to wear. However, the really practical aspect of this gorgeous gown was it had side pockets in the skirt so its wearer could do without an evening bag and just carry her lipstick and other small necessities in the pockets.
“That aspect alone made me want the dress,” said Amber Wilson.
As far as the gentlemen went, most were in black tuxedos, but several wore white dinner jackets and a few were in other colors like light blue.
Phillip Carter, executive director of communications at Cumberland, welcomed the Phoenix Ball guests when they arrived in the Dallas Floyd Gym shortly after 7 p.m. He then introduced President Harvill Eaton, who thanked the crowd for being there, proclaimed Cumberland as the “greatest school in the universe and told why the Phoenix Ball was started. He then introduced board chairman Bob McDonald before going on to explain the theme of this 31st Ball was “A Game Changer” because of CU’s historic move into the NCAA and promised a “big party in July when we’re approved.”
Eaton then recognized Cumberland baseball coach Woody Hunt and the Bulldogs for their third national championship; cited Brandon and Linlee Allen for serving as hosts of the Patron’s Party on Thursday evening prior to the Phoenix Ball; and recognized Sid and Georgia Durham for their work on the floral arrangements and other details at this and all the many other Phoenix Balls before.
Finally, Eaton introduced Director of Athletics Ron Paven and brought him to the stage.
Pavan told the crowd how he’d actually worked for a time with the NCAA and had worked with another school handling its transfer to the organization.
“You must believe and convince your kids to believe in what they can do,” Pavan said. “One of the reasons I agreed to come to Cumberland is because Woody Hunt was here. I admire this man so much for what he has achieved.”
Hunt thanked everyone for supporting the team.
“I just kind of stepped back and let the boys do their thing, and they did it,” said Hunt, who then introduced players Chris Hall and Jake Collier. Hall was cited with the national Champion of Character Award.
A musical rendition of “Think of Me” was then performed by Melody Myers, a member of the class of 2014, taking the lead with her powerful voice and backed up my Deron Martel, from the class of 2014 and Jordan Parker, from the class of 2008.
Agee and Johnson auctioneer Jay White then auctioned off four items consisting of an “Ultimate Sports Fan Package” trip; a sterling silver medallion rendition, designed and made by Rodney Haskins and donated by Cox’s Gifts and Jewelry, of the Phoenix Ball’s mythical Phoenix; and a Cumberland baseball jersey signed by all the members of this year’s championship team.
Pavan delivered the invocation and a multi-course dinner was served.
Dinner included an appetizer of pickled Shrimp pate feuilletee with chive aioli, followed by a course of asparagus bisque with lemon creme fraiche. Then came a salad of mixed field greens with fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes with balsamic reduction.
The entree included espresso-rubbed chateaubriand with merlo demi, gorgonzola potato au gratin and me’lange of roasted root vegetables.
Dessert consisted of carrot apple cake with mascarpone icing and caramel sauce.
Gourmet coffee rounded out the meal, and bottles of red and white wines were on the table for guests to serve themselves with wine during dinner and beyond.
Following dinner, the nationally renowned Pat Patrick Band, formed in 1958, played everything from the ’70s, ’80s, Motown, oldies, big band, rock ‘n roll, country, bluegrass and today’s latest hits.
The band played for the crowd, as well as attendees for the late night party and others until 1 a.m. The Allens, who played host to the Patron’s Party, were invited to lead off the dancing. The guests got into the music, and many danced the night away until the music folded up and went home.
Around midnight, bacon, eggs, sausage, a casserole and biscuits and gravy were served to the 50 or so people who remained and danced until the music stopped. Finally, the tables were cleared and all the signs of dinner, partying and dancing were put away.
Another week was gone that included the Patron’s Party and the 31st annual Phoenix Ball.
It was adieu time until 2015.
2014 Patrons’ Party Attendees
Amy Adams, Kathy Adams, Joyce Alcorn, Brandon and Linlee Allen, Ryan and Monica Alsup, Becky Andrews, Al and Claudine Ashworth, Rick and Necole Bell, Louis and Jenny Bennett, Cheryl Bockstruck, Robert and Connie Bone, W. P. and Leanna Bone, Joey Jane Bradshaw, John and Karen Bradshaw, Danny and Susan Bryan, John and Kim Bryan, Frank Bryant, Pat Bryant, Will Bryant, Bonnie Bucy, Camille Burdine and John Walden, Kevin and Julie Carr, Jeff Clower, Eddie and Joselyn Conrad, Chris and Amanda Crowell, Jennifer Dean, Brittany Dugas, Marva Dye, Harvill and Lois Eaton, Stephanie Ferrell, Rob and Lisa Gwynne, Nathan and Lyndsey Harris, Scott and Kirsten Harris, Jonathon Hawkins, Ken and Mallory Howell, Larry Hubbard, Ed and Susie James, Fulton and Kris Johns, Brody and Angel Kane, Todd and Misty Kennedy, Shelly Lanius and David Brown, Laney and Nova Lawrence, JD and Susannah Lowery, Adam and Mallory Maxwell, Bob and Susan McDonald, Jim and Meredith McDowell, Michael and Katy Moscardelli, Richard and Jenni Moscardelli, Jud Nave, Tracey and Kim Parks, Hal and Beth Parrott, Mark and Deborah Patton, Ron and Tammi Pavan, Eddie and Mary Gordon Pawlawski, Mr. and Mrs. William Price, Mandy Pryor, Katy Richardson, Rusty and Kathy Richardson, Alan and Jamie Ricketts, Alex and Beth Scruggs, Denise Sikes, Mary Ross Skelton, C. K. and Delaine Smith, Shawn Smith and Lindsay Beard, Annette Stafford, Ed and Theresa Stanford, Leslie Steele, Richard and Tara Stone, Paul and Cristy Stumb, Will and Debbie Taylor, Ed and Betty Thackston, Eric Thompson, Caleb and Jessica Thorne, Todd Tressler, Mark and Kim Tyndall, John and Debbie Van Mol, Sue Vanatta, Stephanie Walker and Troy Davis, Pete and Martha Wiliston, and Andy and Jill Wright
2014 Phoenix Ball Attendees
Joe and Kathy Adams, Joyce Alcorn, Brandon and Linlee Allen, Ryan and Monica Alsup, Jay and Becky Andrews, Al and Claudine Ashworth, Lindsay Beard, Rick and Necole Bell, Cheryl Bockstruck, Danny and Susan Bryan, John and Kim Bryan, Frank Bryant, Pat Bryant, Bonnie Bucy, Camille Burdine, Ashley Butler, Eddie and Brenda Callis, Lee and Briget Campbell, Phil Carter, Rob and Helene Cash, Bernie and Mig Christian, Jake Collier, Adam Conrad, Bryan Conrad, Eddie and Joslyn Conrad, Bill and Sally Cotten, Glen and Claire Custred, Kevin and Melissa Dilley, Sid and Georgia Durham, Harvill and Lois Eaton, Jessica Fain, Jeannie Farley, Stephanie Ferrell, Todd and Robbi Freeman, Sabrina Garrett, Jeremy and Genesis Goodman, Bill and Cathy Gracey, Joe and Doris Gray, Chris Hall, Nathan and Lyndsey Harris, Scott and Kirsten Harris, Sam and Teresa Hatcher, Jonathon Hawkins, Nick and Brandy Hays, Lynnette Herndon, Bill and June Heydel, Tom and Vicki Hines, Sam and Debbie Holm, Howard and Menda Holmes, Brian and Dana Holtgraewe, Larry Hubbard, Woody Hunt, Geoff and Amber Hurdle, Randall and Paula Hutto, Ed and Susie James, Scott and Denise Jasper, Fulton and Kris Johns, James and Judy Jordan, Brody and Angel Kane, Mark Kent, Paul and Erika Kinslow, Matt Lancaster, Laney and Nova Lawrence, Scott and Ashley Lawrence, Jeff and Andrea Lea, Jimmy and Maggie Lea, Mark Lee, Susan Lee, Melanie Long, Eddie and Brandi Lovin, JD and Susannah Lowery, Deron Martel, Nathan and Debbie Massey, Cathy McClain, Scott McCormick, Nolan and Jenny McCue, John and Kathy McDearman, Bob and Susan McDonald, Jim and Meredith McDowell, Alexa Moscardelli, Jenni Moscardelli, Michael and Katy Moscardelli, Guest Myers, Melody Myers, Steven and LeaBeth Pack, Jordan Parker, Tracey and Kim Parks, Jana Pastors, Mark and Deborah Patton, Ron and Tammi Pavan, Eddie and Mary Gordon Pawlawski, Damon And Jennifer Petty, Matt and Betsy Pierucki, Spencer and Kristi Pope, Paula Porter, Aaron and Mandy Pryor, Troy and Beth Putman, Chelsie Raines, Dallas Reynolds, David and Cathy Rhodes, Katy Richardson, Rusty and Kathy Richardson, Melissa Schneider, Denise Sikes, Celia Simmons, Chris and Lauren Smith, Shawn Smith, Leslie Steele, Josh and Ashlee Stephenson, Clint and Whitney Swain, Jeremy Taylor, Edward L. and Betty Thackston, Mike Thornhill, Jordan and Tara Tinkle, Brittney Trusty, Mark and Kim Tyndall, Sue Vanatta, Bob and Julie Vero, John Walden, Danny Walker, Stephanie Walker, Quinn and Cindy Wasden, Dakota Weatherford, Patricia West, Gary and Tammye Whitaker, Jay White, Andrea Wilke, Robert and Deborah Williams, Derrick and Amber Wilson, and John and Melissa Wootten