It’s the Ruby Jubilee for Candlelight Ball on Saturday

Eighty years ago, amid the traditional holiday festivities and sweet indulgences, La Jolla was also abuzz with talk of a grand gala.

The decor promised to be stunning, the food decadent, the crowd fashionable, and the cause worthy.

Members of the woman’s auxiliary at Scripps Memorial Hospital (a small group of volunteers and physicians’ wives) decided to go beyond mending hospital linens and visiting patients and host the first Candlelight Ball.

This Saturday evening their legacy continues as guests enter the Grand Del Mar dressed in their best for the 80th Candlelight Ball, Dec. 5. Patrons will mingle, dine and dance in support of the medical work done at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

“It is the cause that has really made the ball so prominent now,” said 1968 auxiliary chair Joan Capen. “As with most benefits, there is the appeal of having a fun evening and enjoying the company of others, but for most of us, it is primarily supporting the hospital, which drew us in.”

The first ball raised $1,532 to furnish a free-bed service at the hospital for patients who could not afford care. Last year, with a generous challenge grant from current chairman, Betty Knight Scripps, the Candlelight Ball raised $3 million for the hospital.

While the theme, committee members and venue have varied over the last 80 years, the Candlelight Ball has always maintained two things: the form of an elegant holiday-themed gala with dinner and live entertainment, and dedicated volunteers whose forethought and creativity make the ball possible. “People don’t realize the work that goes into a ball,” said 1998 chair Dianne York-Goldman. “We spent the entire year getting ready for the ball with different meetings and discussions. There was so much involved — from save-the-date cards and invitations to table cloths, decor and souvenirs — and we had an incredible group of women who did it all.”

In 1930, the committee hung red, white and blue streamers and choreographed a minuet as entertainment for the ball. In 1957, the holiday-themed event included hand-made snowmen in the foyer and life-size reindeer with blinking eyes and silver horns descending the stairway. And, in 1993, the A Night in Provence ball featured hand-stenciled tablecloths with ivy and grape clusters, and a special gift for the daring chefs in the crowd.

“In the program book we included recipes from famous French restaurants,” recalls A Night in Provence chair Lyn Krant. “For our first recipe, the Parisian restaurant La Tour d’Argent sent us their signature-dish recipe for duck, which started with a live duck.”

This year, the 80th Anniversary Ruby Jubilee Candlelight Ball will feature a night of dining and dancing to The Bob Hardwick Sound. Betty Knight Scripps will serve as general chairman for the seventh year and the guest of honor will be Academy Award-winning actor and La Jolla native Cliff Robertson.

“The celebration of the Candlelight Ball serves as a reminder to the community about the extraordinary health care that is provided by Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, as well as setting a greater financial challenge to the community to support these lifesaving medical endeavors,” Scripps said.

Eighty years ago, A.P. Mills, president of the woman’s auxiliary at Scripps Memorial Hospital, held much the same sentiment, reminding the La Jolla community of the spirit behind the Candlelight Ball, and the hospital founder, Ellen Browning Scripps.

“Miss Ellen Browning Scripps gave the Scripps Memorial Hospital to the people of La Jolla,” Mills wrote in The Jewel newspaper. “Now let us all take into our hearts her own spirit of doing for others and help those who may, at times, find themselves in need of financial assistance.”

Candlelight Ball

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