As mothers and sons in formal gowns and jackets and ties entered Club Meade, they were greeted by a knight and princess in full costume.
“They were cool,” said 7-year-old John Benefield, who was escorted by his mother Keia Benefield, a cyber security analyst at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The Benefields were among the more than 340 guests to attend Fort Meade’s first “A Knight with Mom: Mother & Son Ball” on Saturday evening. The three-hour event was sold out.
For the past four years, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has sponsored the popular Father and Daughter Ball.
Scott Myers, chief of the business operations division at DFMWR, said the Mother & Son Ball is the directorate’s response to requests from mothers for an event with their young sons.
“We are paying attention to our community and fulfilling what we see as a need,” Myers said. “It’s a good opportunity for mothers and sons to experience a formal event and bond in a military environment.”
The knight, actor Glen Haupt, and the princess, actress Janna Livingston, are cast members from Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament at Arundel Mills. The family entertainment company brings 11th-century England to life.
“Welcome lords and ladies,” said Livingston as the guests gathered at their dinner tables inside the ballroom. “Let’s give a cheer for all the sons and their moms.”
DFMWR partnered with Medieval Times to provide the actors and to set the décor for the evening.
The ballroom was decorated with blue, gold, black and red balloons. Each dinner table was adorned with either a blue, gold and black dragon shield or a black, red and gold lion shield. A crown and Medieval Times flag were provided for each boy.
In the lobby stood an armored statue of a knight, where many mothers took photographs of their sons.
Capt. Lisa Cartwright, a urologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, attended with her 4-year-old son Isaiah.
“I just wanted to share a special night, just me and him,” Cartwright said. “It’s great to have mothers and sons spend the evening together and to have a little bit of fun.”
Staff from Fort Meade’s Family Advocacy Program and Child and Youth Services provided paper corsages for the mothers as well as portrait photographs.
1st Lt. Linda Williams, a Reservist with U.S. Africa Command, said the ball is very important and would like to see it become a Fort Meade tradition.
“I’m glad they got this started and that we’re a part of it,” Williams said.
Guests dined on a buffet of roast beef with a red wine demi glaze, lemon rosemary baked chicken, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and cake and ice cream for dessert.
After dinner, Tim Hall, a local professional magician, performed a 30-minute magic show. Hall has performed at every Father and Daughter Ball.
“It’s fun,” Hall said. “Everybody needs a little magic every day.”
Ten-year-old Isaiah Hooks was surprised when Hall managed to make a playing card reappear after it was torn and placed inside a black magic box.
“It was fun, but I don’t know how he did it,” he said.
Isaiah’s mother, Tech Sgt. Nancy Falcon, said she makes an effort to spend quality time with her son.
“Sons are attached to you and they look for that interaction,” said Falcon, a photojournalism instructor at the Defense Information School. “It helps them become better people and prepares them for their spouse.
“We [mothers] teach them how to be gentlemen.”
After dinner, Damien Folks, a disc jockey for C&J Entertainment in Odenton, played a mixture of pop, rock, Latina and hip-hop music for an hour of dancing.
As songs by Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars filled the room, mothers and sons held hands and boogied. Boys jumped in the air and moms shimmied.
At the end of the evening, guests formed a conga line and made their way around the ballroom to a Latin song by Gloria Estefan.
“This is really fun,” said Zulema Benavides, wife of Marine Sgt. Nelson Benavides.
She danced with her two sons, Angelo, 6, and Liam, 4.
“We really enjoyed coming out and having a nice time.” Benavides said. “Just the three of us.”