Ebenezer Zane posed for a photo with sister Betty, and her son-in-law Ebenezer Martin stopped by to say hello before she went for a brief gunpowder run around Oglebay’s Glessner Auditorium, all while Elvis danced up a storm with his poodle-skirted date.
And those were just a few of the 220 guests who dressed as characters from Wheeling’s past at the sold-out costume ball that kicked off the city’s 250th birthday on Saturday night at Oglebay.
There were bonnets and beards, top hats and canes, furs and finery, as well as a variety of assorted masks and even a dress with a map of Wheeling. Creativity did not stay home from the ball.
A one-man representative (Pete Holloway) of the “Greatest Generation” paid tribute to his pals, while Greenwood Cemetery’s infamous “Pink Lady” (Mary Haning) scared up some haunting memories.
Opera singer Eleanor Steber (Christina Fisanick) serenaded friends, and Joseph McCarthy (Mark Prince) was interviewed by newspaper society editor Kitty Jefferson Doepken (yours truly, Phyllis Sigal). McCarthy was escorted by the president of the Women’s Republican Club (Jeanie Prince).
L.S. Good and his wife Fannie Good (Bob and Dea Kennen) hob-knobbed with Mr. and Mrs. Henry List (Glenn Elliott and Cassandra Wells) and Moses and Lydia Shepherd (Clark and Elaine Milton). Earl Oglebay (Gerry Reilly) joined the party, as did Lord Dunmore (Mark Fetty).
Newsboys/girls with cameras (Neal Warren and Rebecca Kiger) documented the evening, and guests from dozens of decades from the 1760s through present day, including the fifties (Barry and Lisa Allen), sixties (Cheri and John DeBlasis), seventies (Missy and Paul Ashmore) and eighties (Allison O’Konski and Walker Holloway). There were flappers (Cynthia Pelaez, Danielle McCracken, Julie Joseph), a steelworker (Michael Hires) and a whole crew of Stone & Thomas shopping ladies.
Guests imbibed on a signature “The Wheeling Feeling” cocktail, dined on a delicious repast of trout, ham, salads, spaetzle and more, and danced to music by the band Hit Play.
“Wheeling does have a very bright future and a treasured heritage,” said Mayor Glenn Elliott, from the podium. Elliott also announced “a leave behind for future generations” — a Wheeling history museum will be created. The City of Wheeling, Wheeling Heritage, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Ohio County will co-fund a museum project manager position to develop the plan for the museum. Travis Henline, former director of West Virginia Independence Hall, will fill that role.
The mayor also noted that one of the best decisions he’s made in the past couple of years in his position was to name Jay Frey as head of the Wheeling 250 committee.
Frey complimented the ball co-chairs and committee members for a job well done. Co-chairs of the ball were Donna Glass and Tammi Secrist; committee members included Stella Boldrick, Saun Capehart, Mary Beth Hughes and Paula McClure. Sponsors were the City of Wheeling; Jay Frey and Michael Hires; Friends of Wheeling; Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe; WesBanco; Wheeling Heritage; Regional Economic Development Partnership; The Health Plan; and the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He attributed the sell-out to ticket committee members Missy Ashmore, Raina Burke, Emily Freeman and Laura Mull.
In celebration of the 250th birthday of Wheeling, arts and culture, history and education, and community events will be taking place throughout the year.
Opening Jan. 14 is “Listening Through the Lens: the Musical Portraits of George J. Kossuth from the Collections of the Museums of the Oglebay Institute,” that features the work of Wheeling’s legendary portrait photographer displayed in the atrium of the Federal Courthouse, 1125 Chapline St.
Keep tabs on the yearlong celebration of Wheeling 250 events at the website.
• After nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal has joined Weelunk as managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.