April is sure to be a month to celebrate with the ladies of the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro. The members of this long-standing, local organization are thrilled to be honoring their charitable work and the respectable contributions generated from its two signature events. The Charity Circle was founded in 1910 but it wasn’t until 1967 that they saw a need to take their fundraising efforts to the next level. Playing on the notion that little ol’ Murfreesboro stood in the shadow of the bright lights and fancy soirees of the Nashville elite, such as the wildly popular and lavish Swan Ball; the ladies took a page from their sophisticated neighbor to the north and decided to throw their own formal affair. But Murfreesboro gals are known not only for their beauty and grace, but also their sense of humor, so with a tip of the hat and wink of the eye they named their affair to remember the Ugly Duckling Ball. And if you ask a member who has been attending for all these many years (don’t worry ladies your secret is safe with us) this ball has been divine and elegantly raucous from the very beginning!
The 50th Annual Ugly Duckling Ball will be the capstone to the Charity Circle’s celebratory season. Always classy, but known for surprise elements, beauty, and sophistication, the Duck Ball has certainly evolved over the years. The handmade program from one of the very first ball’s, the S.S. Charity cruise, boasts music from the Clyde Cromwell Orchestra and delicacies of the time, such as cauliflower rosette and celery rib hors d’oeuvres, and “Shipboard Racing” until midnight. But don’t worry, the program assures its guests that “These races are strictly aboveboard”. Aside from a very few years, alwaysheld at the Stones River Country Club, the ladies were challenged every year to completely transform its appearance, in many cases truly transporting its guests to a variety of places such as a cruise ship, casinos, lush gardens, foreign destinations, Hollywood, or Music City. And until the SRCC renovation in the late nineties this transformation required heavy set construction, props, lights, paint, paper, and lots and lots of flowers! Remember, Stewart’s was not around so if you wanted something at your party you had to make it yourself. Decorating took days and required every member, her husband, and all able bodied children working together to make it a success (the youngest ones relegated to sitting there watching for hours on end). If you talk with someone lucky enough to have experienced this era, you will quickly understand the elaborate themes and the indescribable excitement they brought, and you will be jealous that you didn’t get to be there just once, to be a part of something huge and worthwhile; and crazy fun. It also tells the story of how these events came to rest in the heart of the Charity Circle and why they are still held so dear and with the utmost respect and regard.
Shannon Parsons, 3rd Vice President and this year’s Ugly Duckling Ball Chair, has established a clear vision for the 50th celebration. The event will be celebrated on Saturday, April 29th at the Stones River Country Club with cocktails beginning at 6:00 in the evening. Fresh florals and elegant décor selections are sure to be lovely aesthetics in celebrating the Duck Ball’s golden anniversary. Destined to be remembered for its lavish attention to detail and its elegant atmosphere; this will be the ball you don’t want to miss! Murfreesboro has grown tremendously and this yearly event reflects that with its exciting, generous, and beautiful attendees! While its roots remain, Shannon and her team have created an evening of all-night dancing, delicious food, and entertainment that is sure to keep its guests on their feet and fondly remembering the night for years to come. And don’t forget the one-of-a kind auction; there are always amazing parties, trips, experiences, and treasures found at this auction. When celebrating a milestone of this kind, you just never know what unexpected flair these ladies may have in store!
The Patrons Party is a fabulous accompaniment to the actual Ugly Duckling Ball. During the late 80’s it was felt that a new, additional party was needed as a prelude to the ball. This pre-party would serve as an opportunity for a smaller, more intimate atmosphere in which to entertain the loyal supporters of Charity Circle. It was a well-received addition and has been a mainstay of the Duck Ball season ever since. Lucie Burchfield and Rachel Haynes are teaming up to co-chair this year’s Patron’s Party. These two ladies have worked extremely hard on honoring tradition as well as integrating a fresh spin on the party, which is sure to make for a special night. The ladies of Charity Circle have always taken pride in the Patrons Party as this event is almost completely pulled off by the incomparable talent held within its membership-flower arrangement, menu and food preparation, serving, décor, and design are all done by the these remarkable women. Generous community members such as Mitchell Murphree of Five Senses restaurant and Charlie Patel of Murfreesboro Total Beverage help bridge the gap by donating costly items, which greatly reduce the cost ofthe total budget.
The home is always gorgeous with a gracious hostess welcoming friends old and new and the delectable food impressive and memorable. Along with planning and executing the perfect party, the membership has always been able to rely on one of their own generously opening her home to host this elegant cocktail dinner. This year’s party will be held at the French Revival home of Leigh and Jeff McKee on Saturday, April 15. Guests will be welcomed at 7 p.m. The McKee’s home, located on beloved Riverview Drive, is sure to be a perfect backdrop for this year’s event.
The 50th anniversary of the now notorious Ugly Duckling Ball, along with the highly anticipated Patrons Party, are the perfect combination to set the stage for Murfreesboro’s fabulous spring event season. The women behind the organization have set the bar high with a desire to raise over $100,000 through these two fun-filled evenings. In 2016, the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro gave $348,000 to agencies throughout our community. With all of the money raised going directly back into our greatest areas of need, it’s a win-win—and makes for quite a fun month.
So whether in the mood for a fabulous spring party or an elegant, music-filled night on the dance floor, the Duck Ball season is upon us and the ladies of the Charity Circle invite you to join them as they celebrate the past and look ahead to the future.