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USMC Birthday Ball

Or, My Strange And Fantastic Night

I was lucky enough to attend the US Marine Corps birthday ball this year in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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Look at all those curls! I had my hair “fancified” in the afternoon.
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My favorite thing about this dress is the color. I feel like a sparkly green mermaid in it.

The back of my dress has a zipper up to the small of my back, a cutout, and then a strap that snaps and hooks right over where the average bra strap lays across your back. Last year the hooks and snaps broke. But because I like to live on the edge, I just lost a few pounds and never fixed the strap, assuming it would fix itself.

When I finally put the gown on in our hotel room with about ten minutes to spare before the cab arrived it became obvious the hooks and snaps were still broken and every time I inhaled, the strap popped open.

In a panic, I had my husband safety-pin it together. Nope. Still a disaster. Then he safety-pinned the straps to my bra strap. Nope. If anything, it looked worse. I had a shawl, but it couldn’t conceal that much catastrophe. And I hadn’t packed a back-up. Like I said, I like to live on the edge.

My husband, my daughter, and I swept downstairs with little choice but to see if the sundry store in the hotel lobby sold magical safety pins. I was desperate, at this point. But all they had was a tiny sewing kit.

I unwrapped the green thread, threaded the needle, and tried to convince first my husband and then my nine-year-old daughter that it was no big thing to learn to sew like a tailor in two minutes flat.

The desk clerk noticed our struggle and announced calmly, “I can do that for you.”

Like my fairy godfather, he pulled me behind the registration desk and told me how his mother used to make all his bell bottom pants and shirts with french cuffs when he was a kid as he sewed me into my gown. Bless his heart, he saved the whole night. All fixed up and looking like new, the three of us hopped into our cab and headed off to the ball.

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The dining room.

The ball was amazing. We drank too much, laughed too loudly, and had too much cheesecake, but it was all worth it. I have to admit I did not dance, not even one slow song, but I wasn’t ready to tempt fate that much.

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Our table with its beautiful flowers and engraved glasses.

For the four or five hours my husband and I were at the ball my daughter had a blast in the child care room. It turned out she was the oldest child there and almost all the other kids were infants or toddlers. She became the unofficial baby caregiver, and as you can imagine, to a baby obsessed nine-year-old girl this was like a dream come true.

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The ceremonial cake.

Our cab driver on the way back to our hotel was a movie buff and self-styled tour guide.  He prattled on about all the movies and tv series that film in Wilmington. I was only half listening until he pointed out a church on Market Street near the Kenan fountain where he said Sleepy Hollow was filming scenes right that minute. I couldn’t see anything except big trucks and lights, but I have to believe Tom Mison was there and I passed within feet of him.

Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane.
The Kenan Fountain in front of the Bellamy Mansion on Market Street in Wilmington.
 <3 Anna

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Published inMiscellaneous


  1. You looked beautiful and it sounds like you had a great time! You’re the third person I know who went to one of those balls – but the other two were on the other side of the world. LOL And I know exactly how your daughter must have felt! 🙂

    • Anna Abner Anna Abner

      Thank you, Katherine! It was a lot of fun.

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