The 117th Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation and Scholarship Ball held at CenturyLink Oct. 19 was the highlight of a week of activities for the 2013 Royal Court members.
Pages, youngest members of the Royal Court, were welcomed to a luncheon in their honor at the Happy Hollow Club after their Oct. 17 morning rehearsal.
The 130 guests were guided into the Emerald City and greeted by characters from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Tables were decorated with green cloths and yellow napkins with red glitter rings, with hot air balloons hovering over each table. Ann Tjaden, Women's Ball committee chairwoman, and Kate Grabill, Page Luncheon chairwoman, greeted the pages and standard bearers, assisted by Buffy Ricceri, assistant page chairwoman.
Treated to a luncheon of chicken strips, French fries and fruit, page chairwoman Kathleen Pallesen introduced the honorees while adults dined on sage soup with a wedge salad and blackened chicken. Dessert was a custom sugar cookie of witch's legs peeking out from the frosted cookie.
In attendance were reigning Queen Mother Gail Werner-Robertson; Terry Kroeger, Coronation Ball chairman, and his wife, Jackie Kroeger; and Dr. Amy Haddad and Steve Martin, Coronation Ball committee advisor.
Each page was presented with a stuffed Toto dog wearing a page hat and a copy of Frank Baum's “Wizard of Oz,” along with an engraved silver frame with a photo of the page in his or her costume.
An antique knight welcomed 400 guests to the Durham Museum for the Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation and Scholarship Ball's Regale on Oct. 17. The festivities included introduction of the 2013 Ak-Sar-Ben princesses and escorts and recognition of the Court of Honor.
Co-chairwomen for the event were Kathy Langdon and Susan McGillick.
Tjaden and Terry Kroeger recognized the 2013 Court of Honor: the Rev. Tom Fangman Jr., Penny Parker, Bruce Rasmussen and Michael Simmonds.
Also recognized were 2013 Omaha Escort Chairmen Andrew Bekins Anderson, son of Cindy and Rod Anderson, and Tyler Joseph Deardorff, son of Amy and John Deardorff, and Heartland Escort Chairmen James Russell Clark, son of Wendy and Roger Clark of Minden, and Kellen Dean Jorgensen, son of Marsha and Kelvin Jorgensen of Exeter. The escort chairmen serve as ambassadors for the 2013 princesses and escorts.
The 2012 queen, Afton Robertson, and her parents, Scott Robertson and Gail Werner- Robertson, and King J. Robert Duncan and his wife, Karen, were in attendance. Governors, councilors, several past monarchs, Court of Honor recipients, princesses and escorts and their parents and the 2013 Women's Ball committee also attended.
Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were served in the Swanson Gallery followed by dinner in the main waiting area. Shimmering bronze tablecloths topped with large crystal candelabras and ivory and white floral arrangements complemented the gold rimmed china and flatware to suggest the Golden Road to Quivira theme.
Guests dined on mixed greens with grilled pear, toasted almonds and Roquefort cheese with champagne vinaigrette, chicken breast with red pepper cream sauce, oven-browned potatoes and grilled vegetables. A warm toffee cake with caramel sauce completed the meal.
Royal Court Luncheon
Princesses and escorts gathered at the Royal Court Luncheon Oct. 18 at the CenturyLink Center on their final day of fittings and rehearsals.
Langdon was assisted by Princess Chairwoman Kelli Draper, Heartland Princess Chairwoman Susan McGillick, Escort Chairwoman Stacy Wilson and Heartland Escort Chairwoman Christine Stevens.
The Women's Ball committee served as hosts for the luncheon featuring guest speaker Mogens C. Bay, chairman and CEO of Valmont Industries. The speaker was chosen by Kroeger and Martin.
The Ak-Sar-Ben Floor Committee, chaired by Brian Fahey and Michael Mackintosh, also attended. The luncheon serves to encourage mentorships and business relationships with court members.
White floral arrangements of roses, tulips and hydrangea by Aaron Carlson dressed the tables.
The Women's Ball committee hosted its Legacy Luncheon, “A Charmed Affair,” Oct. 18 at Omaha Country Club.
Guests gathered to honor the mothers of the princesses, escorts and standard bearers of the 2013 Royal Court. Kelly Thedinger, 2013 Women's Ball committee advisor, hosted.
Thedinger spoke of the heritage of Ak-Sar-Ben and played a video clip containing time-lapse photography of preparations for the 2012 Ball at the CenturyLink.
The rich legacy of Ak-Sar-Ben's presence in the community was brought to life with antique sterling containers overfilled with kiwi spider mums, sea holly, bittersweet and pink cabbage roses atop stunning avocado green shantung tablecloths with oversized paisley print napkins in greens, golds and cream.
Guests were treated to Vegetable Napoleon with grilled eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, marinated mushrooms and mozzarella, stacked on creamed mascarpone polenta. Chocolate crowns dusted in edible gold topped a dessert of white chocolate mousse on chocolate cranberry cake with a blood orange sauce and chocolate ganache.
In attendance were Werner-Robertson, who is a Governor of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, and Jackie Kroeger.
The Coronation and Ball
The crowns glistened atop Ak-Sar-Ben King William Cutler III and Queen Carolyn German as their families and court members celebrated the 117th Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation and Scholarship Ball Oct. 19 at the CenturyLink Center.
The ball evoked the beloved “Wizard of Oz” journey home with its theme, the Golden Road to Quivira.
Returning to one's roots and honoring the Ak-Sar-Ben tradition of education and scholarship, philanthropy and community figured prominently in the production.
The stage design was reminiscent of the Emerald City, and music inspired by “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Wiz” regaled guests throughout the evening.
The image of a key, symbolizing access to knowledge, inspired the table decorations. Three centerpieces designed by Damon Samuels graced the gold cloths of crinkles, organza, swirls and pin tucks with napkins of tone on tone in harvest hues. The first centerpiece was an elaborate base supporting a candlestick and moss orb with assorted gilded keys and green hydrangeas, belles of Ireland and spray roses. Another was vintage bottles filled with emerald green water lit from beneath with an LED light and chartreuse reindeer moss and gold bullion. The last was a gilded finial topped hurricane with a vintage key pattern surrounded by a boxwood wreath and emerald and gold ribbon.
Nearly 1,900 guests enjoyed the Oz Regal Dinner, from Levy Catering, of heart of romaine with ruby beef steak tomatoes, Romano cheese and smoked tomato vinaigrette, golden encrusted filet mignon with chateaubriand sauce, glazed rainbow carrots and aged cheddar polenta brick cakes. A flourless chocolate cake with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and raspberry coulis concluded the meal.
The strapless emerald green princess gowns were created by Carmen Marc Valvo. Accented with a gold- and silver-jeweled waistband, the pockets in the voluminous full skirt was a favorite detail for the young women. Tilly Chapman of Tilly was Royal Court Couturier.
German's one-of-a-kind gown was fashioned by Valvo. On a trip to New York with her mother, the queen showed the designer a magazine photo that inspired the custom design of five layers of cream Italian silk tulle with re-embroidered French gold lace. Karen German, the queen's mother, wore a classic long-sleeve golden lace gown, also by Valvo. Tjaden wore a strapless Rene Ruiz couture gown of re-embroidered gold tulle, echoing the golden theme.
Cutler's wife, Susan, wore a strapless Frascara gown in shades of brown and teal with a custom wrap in teal Tai silk with a hand-beaded black border. Daughters Jeanie Cutler Jones and Jackie Cutler Lund sparkled in a Carol Peretz brown-and-black printed silk gown with organza flowers and a Theia design silver blue-grey ball skirt with a strapless silk threaded bodice, accented with a silver crown encrusted with pearls, a gift from when she was a princess.
One of the most remarkable gowns of the evening was worn by Sam Hohman. It took four years of collecting Crown Royal fabric bags to design and create the sleeveless V-necked gown.
After the coronation, guests danced to the music of Finest Hour.
The Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation and Scholarship Ball's mission is to promote, recognize and celebrate volunteerism, philanthropy and community pride. More than $8 million in scholarship funding has been raised from Coronation Ball proceeds.
“And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” — Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
ON THE CALENDAR
Outward Bound Omaha Annual Luncheon, Scott Conference Center. 402-614-6360 x206, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raise the Roof Gala, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, Creighton University Harper Center. 402-884-5957, habitatomaha.org/gala.
TeamMates Tailgate Gala, Together We Transform Lives, Embassy Suites La Vista. 877-531-9326, teammates.org.
Wicker and Wine Basket auction, Lutheran Family Services, Mid-America Center, www.lfsneb.org, 402-978-5646.
Christmas Caravan Tour of Homes, Assistance League of Omaha. www.alomaha.org.
Creating Futures scholarship dinner, Omaha Christian Academy, Embassy Suites La Vista, omahachristianacademy.org, 402-614-5716.
Women's Center for Advancement TGIF!, Mutual of Omaha Dome, 402-345-6555.
Children's Hospital & Medical Center Children's Gala, CenturyLink Center Omaha. www.childrensfoundationomaha.org, 402-955-6851.
Big Red Block Party, Junior League of Omaha, Scott Conference Center, adults only. www.jlomaha.org.
Jazzy Taste of Wine, Bringing Arts to Life, Love's Jazz and Arts Center, 402-502-5291.
Neihardt Laureate Feast with photographer and author the Rev. Don Doll, Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft, Neb. 402-648-3388, www.neihardtcenter.org.
Omaha Creative Institute Annual Bash to Recognize Local Creators, International Project. omahacreativeinstitute.org.
OneWorld Milagro Dinner, Historic Livestock Exchange Building Ballroom. oneworldomaha.org/milagro-2013.
Merrymakers' Roast of the Rev. Thomas Fangman, Embassy Suites La Vista, www.merrymakers.org, 402-697-0205.
Completely Kids Guild Annual Meeting, Happy Hollow Country Club. completelykids.org, 402-397-5809.