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The White Rose Debutante Ball: 60 years of Hungarian Tradition
The White Rose Debutante Ball: 60 years of Hungarian Tradition

To provide you a history of the Hungarian White Rose Ball, we must start with the formation of the Hungarian Arts Club, which has sponsored this event for 60 years. The Hungarian Arts Club was formed in 1958 as an organization to preserve and foster Hungarian arts and culture. The Club’s goals were to nourish, support and promote Hungarian heritage and present this culture to the people of the United States. So, way back in the 1950s, the Detroit Hungarian Community held a formal ball called the “Radio Ball”. It was called that because Mrs. Pálos, the owner of the Hungarian radio station and the Hungarian newspaper, used to chair the event each year.

In 1958, Mrs. Pálos decided she no longer wanted to chair the event and wanted someone or some group to take over the responsibility. In the fall of 1958, a meeting was held in Delray, Michigan to discuss the formation of a group to continue the tradition of the Hungarian formal ball. Several local dignitaries*, business people*, and well known local Hungarian artists* attended. The group agreed to form the Hungarian Arts Club of Detroit, not only to continue the ball but also to support Hungarian artists and art students. Some of the affluent people attending the meeting, who happened to descend from Hungarian royalty (the Csiszárs), suggested the group follow in the footsteps of Hungarian nobility and rename the ball “Fehér Rózsa Bál” and make it a debutante ball.

The group loved the suggestion, the Hungarian Arts Club of Detroit was born and the White Rose Ball tradition began. Dr. Csiszár became the first President of the Club, and membership grew. The Club received its legal charter from the State of Michigan on May 31st, 1960. 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of this Hungarian tradition. The formal black tie event, now held at the historic Dearborn Inn Marriott the first Saturday of February, has a live band offering traditional ballroom dancing, including csárdás and polkas. In addition, one of the highlights of the evening is watching the debutantes and their escorts perform the "palotás", a traditional dance of the Hungarian royal court. Following the "palotás", each young woman is introduced into Society, and completes a formal curtsey to all the guests. She is then escorted back to await the arrival of her father and the performance of the Father-Daughter Blue Danube Waltz.

During the evening, the winner of the college scholarship is announced and often times performs a musical piece, should that be his or her field of study. The scholarships (three to be given out this year) have been awarded in fields ranging from acting and instrumental performances, to singers, dancers, music teachers, sculptors, and designers. All students of Hungarian descent, studying the fine arts, are encouraged to apply. To date, the Club has introduced over 450 debutantes, and given away over $90,000.00 in college scholarships. The current President is Tamás Markovits of Ypsilanti, with Linda Enyedy of Southfield as the Vice-President. The Hungarian Arts Club has enjoyed strong support over the years from the William Penn Association and local Hungarian groups and organizations - from ball attendance, to financial contributions; and we look forward to these continued reciprocal sponsorships.

To celebrate our 60 years, this time we will be hosting the Hungarian Ambassador to the US, dr. Szabó László as our Honorary Chairperson.  He assumed his position in July 2017.  Dr. Szabó's first profession was medicine, but he later joined Eli Lilly, working eventually at their world headquarters in Indiana.  In 2010, he was named CEO of TEVA (Hungary), one of the world's largest generic drug firms.  Later on, he became State Secretary and later Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

We are excited about celebrating our 60 years, and encourage any former debutantes, escorts, and scholarship winners to attend this February 3rd gala event, and reminisce with old friends and revitalize their Hungarian roots. If you know of any young Hungarians who would like to participate in the Ball as a deb or an escort, or apply for the scholarship, or if you are interested in joining the Club, please contact Linda Enyedy at 248-352-0927.

*Original meeting attendees included or may have included: Dr. Géza Nagy, Dr. Kálmán Csiszár, his wife Irén Csiszár, Mrs. Pálos, Mrs. Anna Bozo, Father Jakab, Dr. Navori, Sculptor Ferenc Varga, artist József Sulyok, artist János Tokai, artist Ferenc Somogyi, Vilmos Nerath and his wife, and possibly Dr. Sztar.

 

Laura A. Kuczajda has been the publicity person for the Hungarian Arts Club for the last 10 years. She has an MBA and is currently the Director of the College of Human Medicine for Michigan State University. 


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