Nate Jenkins and daughter, Avery (left) and Alex Thomas and daughter, Lexi, take to the dance floor at last year's Daddy-Daughter Dance at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. Credit: Heidi Randhava

Fathers and daughters put on their dancing shoes the afternoon of Feb. 6 and stepped out together for an early Valentine’s Day celebration at the 2022 Daddy-Daughter Dance at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.

The event was tailored for dads and their daughters ages 5-10. In addition to nonstop dancing, they enjoyed a buffet dinner with an array of Valentine’s Day-themed desserts and treats. Many of the girls made a beeline for craft tables filled with supplies that allowed their creativity to shine. Dads watched their daughters decorate cookies, paint miniature canvases and embellish heart-shaped photo frames with stickers.

It was a first-time event for some, a cherished tradition for others and an opportunity for all to nurture a strong relationship.

Matt Barclay and his daughter, Fiona, chatted over dinner at a table decorated with flowers and a red linen tablecloth. Barclay said his family is new to Evanston, having moved here last year from Chicago.

“We were looking for an opportunity to spend some time together and thought the Daddy-Daughter Dance would be fun,” he said.

Sunny Malik and his daughter, Maya, ( left) were first-timers at the Daddy-Daughter Dance. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Robert Serb headed toward the dance floor with his daughter, Catherine, 9. Serb said the Daddy-Daughter dances are an annual tradition for them, one they both look forward to. Catherine nodded in agreement.

“I want to come back every single year, as long as there’s still crafts and dancing,” she said.

Ken Gass brought all three of his daughters – Lana, 6; Jolene, 9; and Ava, 11. Paintbrushes in hand, the girls artfully added color to small sketch canvases.

“We’ve been coming for quite a few years. It’s a nice chance to get out … It’s a good opportunity to hang out all together,” said Ken Gass.

Travis Cronkhite and daughters Adelaide, 10, and Cora, 6, joined the Gass family for crafts, dinner and dancing.

Carefully made arts and crafts projects and twirl-worthy dresses are a hallmark of the Daddy-Daughter Dance. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

A sense of joy and community permeated the room as dads and daughters showcased their dance moves. The need for safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 did not dampen the carefree mood on a Sunday afternoon of dinner, dancing, music and fun.

“There are so many daughters here, that I got a chance to make a new friend,” said 5-year-old Ruby, who attended the dance with her dad, David Eldridge.

Ruby stays focused on the craft table, with her dad, David Eldridge, at her side. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center Program Coordinator Marchelle Bonner said the staff looks forward to the annual dance.

“This is an event that we enjoy putting on and we see that the fathers and the daughters really enjoy coming,” she said.

Fleetwood-Jourdain Recreation Manager Kenneth Cherry said the event is really about love.

“It’s a wonderful situation for our dads to come out and express this love to their daughters,” said Cherry.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.

Leave a comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *