New Year’s Balls at Alliance, 1903

On New Year’s Eve in 1903 Alliance was the scene of two well-attended holiday balls. The Alliance Semi-Weekly Times of January 1, 1904, called the first, held in honor of Bernard Phelan in the Alliance opera house, a “social event of unexcelled brilliancy.” Described as a “floral ball,” the event featured female guests attired in costumes representing different varieties of flowers.

The Times depicted the floral ball decorations with elaborate care: “Festoons of roses, chrysanthemums and poppies were intermingled with specially arranged strings of electric lights, the color scheme of the decorations being in white, red and green. These hung in graceful folds about the walls, across the front of the gallery, above the stage, and at the center of the ceiling were looped more profusely, while from the center of a large ball of white chrysanthemums one monster red electric light glowed. . . . Moore’s orchestra occupied a specially constructed circular stage in one corner surrounded by potted palms which were also placed advantageously about the room.

“Under the gallery the stationary seats had been removed, and here tables adorned with handsome china and silverware, snowy linen with embroidered flowers, candlesticks, etc., awaited. Red, green and purple were among the decorations. Sandwiches, salad, pickles, olives, coffee, cakes, and ice cream made up the menu most daintily served.”

The second ball, sponsored by “Hardstruggle lodge, No. 642, made memorable the last fleeting hours of the old year and watched the birth of the new at Zbinden-Miller hall with a blaze of lights amid mirth and expressions of good will.” The Times did not slight this second dance and commented of lodge members: “That the boys were anything but novices at decorating was evident when the big hall was inspected. The red, white and green of the order was in evidence everywhere. . . . The word, ‘Welcome,’ appeared across the entire west end of the hall. Punch was served with a lavish hand . . . The floor was in excellent condition, and the dance program contained twenty-four numbers, so that it was 2:30 when the last strains of ‘Home Sweet Home’ marked the close of this mammoth social event.”

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