Tag Archives: County Assemblies

Dance Dance

A year ago, the end was in sight for the County Assembly and Red & White balls.

After 75 years of operation, organizers of the girl-asks-guy January formal dances could not find enough volunteers to produce the 2014 event.

An APB — including a plea on “06880” — worked. Mothers stepped up, dresses and tuxes were rented, and even big snow could not stop the dances.

That’s the good news. The better news is that over $35,000 was raised and distributed to 23 local organizations supporting youth.

Posing before the Red & White Ball.

Posing before the Red & White Ball.

The Courage to Speak Foundation and Janus Center for Youth in Crisis got $2,500 each.

Checks for $2,000 went to Family and Children’s Agency, Norwalk Youth Symphony, Aunt Terry, Circle of Care, Project Return, A Better Chance of Westport, A Better Chance of Wilton, The Center for Family Justice and Mercy Learning Center.

Other recipients include Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County, Operation Hope, Homes With Hope, The Kennedy Center, Trackside Teen Center, The Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Wilton Social Services for Domestic Violence, SafeRides, Weston Food Pantry, Al’s Angels, Wakeman Boys & Girls Club and RAAFT Ludlowe.

If only organizers could charge for the after-parties, there’s no telling how much money they’d raise.

County Assemblies May Go Kaput

After 75 years, the County Assembly and Red & White balls — the girl-asks-guy January formal dances that last year raised over $50,000 for local charities — may be history.

The County Assemblies — the governing board for the 2 events — has sent out an urgent APB.

“We have come to a crossroad,” they say. “We have been unable to fill several board positions. If we cannot do so quickly, we must dissolve our board and cancel all future County Assembly and Red & White Charity Balls.”

The board needs a president, president-elect, treasurer, secretary, and other positions. Meetings are once a month, from September to February.

Interested volunteers should email countyassembliesinfo@gmail.com.

The end of Counties and Red & Whites will disappoint many high school girls (and some boys). Not to mention several charities.

And tons of limousine companies, tuxedo rental shops, dress stores, hair stylists, manicurists, photographers and florists.


Red & White: Part II

In the wake of last night’s “bus bust” at the Red & White dance — click here to read that story — County Assemblies secretary/Westport co-chair Sheri Howie Valente emailed all parents of Westport students who attended.

County AssembliesShe complimented the teenagers on their maturity in dealing with the bus situation. “Everyone was calm and took care of handling their own transportation back to Westport,” Sheri noted.

She added that her daughter’s group has already been issued a refund for the bus. They decided to donate the refund to Staples Tuition Grants. She suggested others do the same.

Sounds like a very sensible — and generous — solution to a situation that had nothing to do with kids and their parents. And everything to do with bus and limo companies that should have known a lot better.

Staples Tuition Grants

Red & Whites: Busted!

Occasionally in the past, Red & White — the tux-and-long-dress, girl-ask-boy dance for Westport, Weston, Wilton and Fairfield seniors — has made headlines for less than chivalrous reasons. There’s been drinking, fights — the usual formal dance stuff.

The County Assembly board — sponsors of the charity ball — cracked down. Everyone is now breathalyzed both arriving and departing. All outerwear is coat-checked — purses too.

Well, last night there was another major problem.

But this one did not involve high school students. This time, it was bus and limo companies’ turn to behave badly.

stretch limo

According to an email from the County Assembly board, sent this morning to all parents of attendees, the state Department of Transportation was “anonymously notified about our event.” They arrived at the Stamford Marriott with Stamford police, and began checking buses and limos.

A number were out-of-state vehicles, without a license to operate in Connecticut. They were allowed to drop dance-goers off, but that was it. The drivers were “detained,” and their buses and limos towed.

Talk about a buzzkill!

Each company was supposed to provide alternate (and legal) transportation home for the riders, but that wasn’t happening.

CT dept trans“In order to provide safety for your children we attempted to keep them all in the same area as many of their buses were not here,” the County Assembly board wrote.

The board “encourages” parents to demand refunds of the miscreant bus and limo companies.

“They should never have accepted this job and left many of your children stranded and upset,” the email continued.

A number of parents jumped into cars to pick up their teenagers. I am sure that is the last thing they — parents and kids — wanted. I am also sure it is the first thing this year’s Red and White-goers will remember — years from now — about last night.

Tonight is the County Assembly — a similar dance, at the same hotel, for junior girls and their dates.

Added to the checklist — tux? dress? boutonniere? corsage? after-party? — is this one:

Legal driver?

A Formal Request

At the risk of wading into spectacularly unfamiliar territory, here goes:

The big issue among Westport teenage girls these days is…long dresses.

The brouhaha — played out on Facebook and Twitter, and in the pages of the Westport News and Staples High School newspaper Inklings — arose when organizers of two formal dances (“Red & White” for seniors, “Counties” for juniors in Westport, Weston, Wilton and Fairfield) decreed that starting this winter, short skirts are out.

Young women must wear long dresses. (Guys have traditionally worn tuxes.)

Girls (and their mothers) are now debating everything from the financial burden of buying long dresses, to the unspoken tradition that Staples girls wear short dresses to Counties, Red & White and the junior prom, making long dresses at the senior prom something extra-special.

Out or in?

The change was made, the president of the governing County Assemblies organization said, both to uphold tradition — this is the 75th edition of the formal dances — and because of complaints that some dresses were too short.

“It’s not a Hollywood dance party,” president Cathi Zilling told the News. “It is a black-tie formal.”

She noted that the dances began as a way to introduce young people to “social graces and social causes.” (Proceeds are donated to charities.)

Never mind that “social graces” at some of the recent formal dances have included fistfights and vomiting — both, presumably, alcohol-related.

And never mind that no one attends Counties or Red & White because they want to give money to worthy organizations.

It’s all about — like a Hollywood dance party — seeing and being seen. About who goes with whom.

And about pre-gaming, and the after-parties.