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Phoenix Ball rises from the ashes

Bonnie Bucy • Jun 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The mythical Phoenix rose from the proverbial ashes of Cumberland University’s 33rd Phoenix Ball on Saturday night. 

Last year’s attendance numbered 147, while this year’s tux-and-gown affair shouted 350 attendees for a magical night that exceeded anything in the recent past.

Shakespeare would have been proud also because the affair’s theme was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The rain held off enough so the tent-covered walkways to Memorial Hall and the Dallas Floyd Gymnasium were able to keep everyone dry as they first attended the pre-ball reception and live-auction bidding in Baird’s Chapel and then made their way to the gym at 7 p.m.

For more photos from the event, click here.

With the bar in the center of the room where drink requests were filled and hors d’oeuvres passed around, the crowd of ladies in a rainbow of lovely and colorful gowns and their tux-wearing men met, greeted and visited with old and new friends. All would take a minute out and peruse the silent auction tables where young ladies attired in clever and colorful fairy outfits handled the online bidding.

There wasn’t a person who didn’t gasp or make a remark as they entered the unbelievable gym and made their way to their assigned tables. Each table contained a large centerpiece of branches mounted on a bed of flowers and trees lined the curtained walls periodically. A four-column “square” with decorative trees marked the dance floor. The 35 tables were elegant with their settings.

As everyone was seated, history professor Rick Bell welcomed all and introduced Cumberland president Paul Stumb. Following his remarks, Board of Trust chairman Bob McDonald spoke, along with ball committeechairs Katy and Michael Moscardelli and then the invocation from the Rev. Mike Ripski.

It was time to see what would be served for dinner, all five courses of it.

The live auction came next and included four items. A painting by Heidi Swartz of the event she painted on site brought $3,000; A diamond necklace from the Jewelers, valued at $3,923 that brought $3,700; his and hers sterling silver cufflinks, donated by Cox’s Jewelry and valued at $930, raised $1,250.

June Heydel died just days before last year’s ball, and she would certainly have loved this year’s rendition. In honor of her memory and her affection for the event, her husband, Dr. William Heydel, donated her exquisite mink coat for the fundraising affair. Valued at $14,000, the mahogany mink stroller brought $8,000. 

The total amount raised through live and silent auctions was $36,500.

“The 33rd annual Phoenix Ball was unequivocally a highlight of my first year as president at Cumberland and arguably the best we’ve ever held,” Stumb said. “Katy and Michael Moscardelli, who served as chairs for the event, assembled a first-class team and put together an evening that will long be remembered as a special time, not only for the 350 folks who were in attendance, but also for all those students who will benefit from the generosity of our wonderful community.”

In his earlier remarks, Stumb told the audience, “Cumberland is going to have a record enrollment this fall, and many of those students wouldn’t be able to come if not for you and the scholarships you’ve helped raise.” 

The music by the NashVegas All-Stars started, and the dance floor filled up.

The wonderfully, magical evening known as A Midsummer Night’s Dream came to an end around midnight, and ball-goers went home to dream about the fun that was had and the year to come.

See more extensive coverage on the 33rd Phoenix Ball in Saturday’s Living section of The Democrat.

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