A colorful and patriotic event, the International Debutante Ball is the loveliest and most enjoyable family occasion of the New York social season. The Ball provides a friendly social context where young men and women from all over the world meet one another, have a wonderful time and form lasting friendships. The Ball was founded in 1954 by Beatrice Dinsmore Joyce and since 1983, her niece Margaret Hedberg has continued as General Chairman. For six decades, the International Debutante Ball Foundation (a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit) has benefitted numerous charities, primarily the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club of New York City, which for over ninety-five years has provided a home away from home for young men and women of our Armed Forces and those of our Allies.
Daughters and granddaughters of United States Presidents and United States representatives have included the three granddaughters and four great-granddaughters of President Eisenhower, both daughters and one granddaughter of President Nixon, two granddaughters of President Johnson and one granddaughter of President Bush, as well as daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Steve Forbes, Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Christopher C. Forbes. Families of ambassadors, nobility, as well as businessmen and women have all attended the Ball.
While the majority of the debutantes come from the United States, each year about one fourth of the young women come from abroad and form lasting friendships with their American counterparts. In total, seventy-five countries have been represented at the Ball, with France, England, Italy and Germany being represented most frequently.
The Ball is held in the beautiful Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The evening begins with the receiving line in the Astor Salon, where guests meet the debutantes and press and candid photos are taken. Cocktails are then served in the Jade Room and Basildon Room. After dinner and dancing in the Ballroom, each debutante is presented, one at a time, accompanied by a civilian escort in white tie, and, traditionally, an escort from the Academies of the U.S. Armed Forces (provided by the committee) who carries the flag of the country or state which the debutante represents. As the debutante walks down the center of the Ballroom to make her bow, the orchestra plays a song appropriate to the country or state represented. Her civilian escort is invited by the debutante or provided by the Ball Committee.