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Parties: What Would Edith Wharton Do?

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

On December 19, the San Francisco Debutante Ball resumed its 56th edition at the Westin St. Francis for a most noble beneficiary: California Pacific Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The debutantes not only learn the importance of hands-on philanthropy and community service; they also raise crucial funds.

Formerly presented by the CPMC Women’s Board, the organization rebranded itself as a new 501(c)3, the San Francisco Debutante Ball, to continue its half-century of support for patient care, critical programs, departments and innovative research at CPMC. San Francisco Debutante Ball president Stacey Dobos led the fundraising event, which was chaired by 2020 ball chairwoman Shannon Cronan and 2021 ball chairwoman Jane Mudge. And with 550 guests — half the ball’s typical turnout — 31 young women from two classes of debutantes “graduated.”

Debs donned white satin or lace-trimmed gowns with opera-length gloves and twirled atop the parquet in a series of quadrilles with their escorts and fathers. After a two-year hiatus, this old-school San Francisco tradition — filled with generational debutantes, philanthropists and scores of CPMC doctors — is back to doing what it does best: raising budding benefactors and raising millions for the hospital.

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