HOPEFUL: Mary Vidler would like the 'deb' ball tradition to continue.
HOPEFUL: Mary Vidler would like the 'deb' ball tradition to continue. Marc Stapelberg

Will this be the last debutante ball in Lismore?

LEGENDARY Lismore personality Mary Vidler looks back fondly to the heyday of debutante balls in Lismore.

Mrs Vidler started a run of very successful debutante balls in the late 1970s at Lismore City Hall and subsequently the Lismore Workers Club.

Back then, girls were clamouring to be part of the event.

"People used to love to get dressed up in their tiaras and their beautiful white gowns... all the parents and friends used to get dressed up, it was the night of nights for Lismore," Mrs Vidler said.

"One year I had that many girls' names down we had to run it Friday and Saturday night."

But times have changed. This year marks the final year Mary Vidler Bridal Gowns will put on a ball, as much as owner Janelle Power and Mrs Vidler would like the tradition to continue.

"Deb" balls as they are commonly known go way back the court of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1600s, and were tradition of 'presenting' ladies to society, perhaps with a view to seek a fitting bachelor for her hand in marriage.

But even in these days of female empowerment it's no longer about impressing the opposite sex, Mrs Vidler says there is still something special about the tradition.

"Girls become the age of 16 and 17 where they are growing up, and they like to dress up... and look like a princess for the night, because they feel they're not a teenager any more, they are venturing into womanhood and mixing with society," she said.

"On that night they all feel like Cinderalla."

Mrs Power said learning old-time dancing was "just one of those beautiful memories" for the girls.

The occasion was great for the lads too, who get to wear tailcoat suits.

"They go in boys and they come out men because they just look amazing... when the girls see their partners in suits they just love it," Mrs Power said.

"We make it as glamorous and fairy tale as possible."

The balls have always been run for a good cause. This year they will raise money for the Lismore Base Hospital breast cancer unit.

"We have seven girls names down already, and most of them are from Kadina, so we're encouraging other schools to come on board and make it a beautiful night to remember," Mrs Power said.

They will need at least 20 girls to go ahead with the event, which was earmarked for a date in June.

And to make the event as affordable as possible, Mary Vidler Bridal Growns was offering ball gown hire for just $150.

There will be six weeks of preparation for one hour each week before the big event.

"C'mon girls we need you, and we need the support for cancer," Mrs Vidler said.

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