New Year's Cotillion

December 30, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Amid twinkling white lights, garlands of silver foliage and pale pink accents, Karen L. Jenne will officially step into high society Saturday.

The 20-year-old Westminster resident joins 29 other young women from the United States and Europe in the 73rd Debutante Assembly and New Year's Ball, New York City's oldest and most well-known debutante presentation.

"We are in the Social Register somewhere, and I was nominated to be part of the party," said Ms. Jenne, who thinks her paternal great-grandfather's relatives in Pittsburgh were the first in her family to be listed.

"It should be a great experience, an opportunity I will have once in my entire life," she said.

On New Year's Eve, Ms. Jenne will rehearse for about six hours in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel, where she and her family also will stay during their three-day visit.

"We have to learn parading, dancing and how to curtsy," she said.

An ambassador -- she doesn't know from which country -- is tossing a party after the rehearsal. Later in the day, she hopes to squeeze into the crowd at Times Square.

"I have been to New York but never to this part before," she said.

When her Western Maryland College classmates asked, "What are you doing New Year's Eve?" she said she smiled and !B answered, "I'll be in Times Square."

Joining the assembly costs $325 per ticket, which includes the cost of the presentation and a dinner dance.

Ms. Jenne's parents, aunts and uncles will accompany her. Her 18-year-old brother, Art, will be her escort, but her father Arthur will lead her in the first dance: the Viennese Waltz.

"My husband is the impetus for this," said Linda Jenne, Karen's mother. "We all are proud and happy Karen is doing this."

All the attention is enough to give a girl jitters, said the about-to-be debutante.

"I have never been to anything like this before," Ms. Jenne said. "What if I don't use the right fork?"

Full-length white gowns, long white gloves and pink bouquets are required for the evening.

Ms. Jenne is looking on the event as "just a fun thing where I might get to meet somebody neat."

The debutantes are presented to "luminaries" in government, diplomatic and other circles, said Mrs. Robert Stith Williams Jr., chairwoman of the event.

Ms. Jenne, a college junior studying sociology, doesn't think the presentation will have any long-range effect.

"It is not going to change my life," she said.

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