Lafayette Ball makes triumphant return

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 25, 2004

MURFREESBORO – It was well worth the wait.

Despite the passage of nearly 15 years since the Roanoke-Chowan area celebrated the 1825 visit to Murfreesboro by the much-beloved Major General Marquis de Lafayette, local residents came together once again here Saturday to remember the famous Frenchman.

In a word, Lafayette Ball chairperson Peg McLean described the event as, &uot;wonderful.&uot;

&uot;It was an honor for me to serve as the chair of a hard-working committee, who worked so tirelessly, that brought the Lafayette Ball back to life,&uot; said McLean. &uot;This event is well worth the effort as it serves as a major fund raiser that enables the Murfreesboro Historical Association to continue its work of restoring our proud heritage.&uot;

The Ball was a blur of activities as ticket holders were treated to several parties prior to Saturday night’s main event held at the Jenkins Center. A welcoming reception was held at the President’s Home on the campus of Chowan College followed by pre-ball parties in the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Benthall, Mr. and Mrs. Bynum R. Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Fowler, Mr. and Mrs. Hal Price and Mrs. J. William Copeland.

Featuring the top-40, Beach band, The Men of Distinction, patrons of the event were able to dance the night away as a gala dinner and dance was held from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. A Patron’s Brunch concluded the event on Sunday at the Hertford Academy.

Highlighting the events were the presence of two special guests. Northampton County native William Ivey Long, now a successful Broadway fashion/costume designer who has earned four prestigious Tony Awards for his work, served as the Ball’s Honorary Chairman. As is customary with previous events, the Lafayette Ball also features a representative from France. Attending the 2004 event was Colonel Gilles Martin, a Senior French Liaison Officer. Col. Martin is the former commanding officer of the 126th Infantry Regiment.

The idea behind the event remains the same as it did 13 years ago – a gala ball to pay tribute to the 1825 visit of Major General Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman that befriended America in their fight for freedom against England during the Revolutionary War.

Years after that war, Lafayette returned to the USA for a tour of the fledging young country. Murfreesboro was one of the stops along that tour and the town made plans to greet the General. Listed among those plans were a reception, banquet and ball. However, General Lafayette’s carriage became stuck in the mud en route to the town and he was only able to make an appearance at the banquet.

Nearly 150 years later, the Murfreesboro Historical Association renewed the Lafayette Ball and used it as one of its major fund raising events.