Two of Baton Rouge's largest debutante organizations — Le Cercle de Bacchus and The Baton Rouge Assembly — have canceled their upcoming presentation balls due to the coronavirus.
For both groups, it is the first time in their histories that the balls are being canceled, officers with both organizations confirmed.
Le Cercle de Bacchus, founded in 1956, made its 2020 debutante presentation in January at Raising Cane's River Center, but has now canceled its 2021 ball, President Adam Deville said.
The Baton Rouge Assembly, which has been presenting its debutantes every year since 1961, will not hold its ball in November or a tea in July, at which the debutantes were to be introduced.
The decision to cancel was made at an emergency board meeting Thursday night, said Assembly Ball Chairman J. Miles Higgins.
Both Deville and Higgins said a prime consideration is the size of the events and their family atmosphere.
"This is a huge thing for the families of the girls," said Deville, noting parents and grandparents, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, are involved at parties leading up to the presentation, as well as the ball itself.
Higgins said board members "had discussions with officials and medical personnel," among others, before making the decision to cancel.
"It was the Baton Rouge Assembly’s strongest desire to find a way to have a wonderful debutante season for the girls, their families and our members. We were all very hopeful that the cases of coronavirus would have continued to dwindle and that the governor would have moved Louisiana to Phase 3 of the recovery last week," Higgins said in a letter to the debutantes and their parents. "We felt like that would have given us a clear path to move forward with our plans.
"In light of the recent surges in cases, increased recent hospitalizations and ongoing COVID-19 issues, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Assembly Debutante Ball and upcoming ladies tea. The safety and health of all was at the forefront of our decision. Unfortunately, we could not see a path to safely host either of those events for the families and members, especially those in vulnerable populations," Higgins said.
The 12 young women who were to be presented this year will have the option to be presented in 2021, Higgins said.
Deville said next year's debutantes had not yet been chosen by Le Cercle de Bacchus.
While founded in 1956, Bacchus presented its first group of debutantes at a ball in 1958. The organization is run by Baton Rouge’s "most eligible young bachelors and professionals," according to its website. In addition to the ball, the group holds social events throughout the year, and Deville said everything has been canceled for 2020.
The Baton Rouge Assembly is one of the area's oldest debutante organizations. It was founded in 1961 by nine Baton Rouge men who had grown up together and wanted their children to know one another. The assembly provides social contact with the common thread being family residence in the area prior to 1910.