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Fathers and daughters dance the night away
Children and their dads dance to music during the Annual Father Daughter Dance July 7, 2012, Fairbanks, Alaska. The annual event, hosted by the Armed Services YMCA, gives fathers a chance to treat their daughters like princesses for an evening. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Janine Thibault)
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Princes, princesses attend Father Daughter Dance

Posted 7/16/2012   Updated 7/18/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Janine Thibault
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2012 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- It was a lively night with daughters being twirled and dipped in the arms of their fathers on the dance floor during the Father Daughter Dance in Fairbanks July 7.

Hosted by the Armed Services YMCA, the event allowed every daughter to become a princess that night, and their fathers to become princes. To bring the Camelot theme to life, a volunteer dressed in knights armor guarded the threshold leading to the main party area. Later during the evening, volunteers costumed as elegant princesses joined the fun on the dance floor after crowning the girls with tiaras.

The venue was changed to the Carlson Center to accommodate the increasing number of people interested in attending the balls of previous years. Last year, 423 fathers and daughters attended the dance and there was still a waiting list. This year the ASYMCA was able to facilitate the attendance of more than 200 fathers and 300 daughters.

The event helps create a bond between fathers and daughters. They can have some time to become close and share an experience that is just theirs, said Rachel Oldfield, the ASYMCA coordinator.

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Varner, 354th Fighter Wing NCO in-charge of chapel operations, looks forward to sharing that evening with his four-year-old Grace.

"It is also a great venue to teach her about the special group of people we belong to," said Varner. "America's true heroes."

Being a military parent may not always be easy, especially with deployments that take parents to locations a great distance from their family members, however, events like the Father Daughter Dance, offer the opportunity to share special memories that could last a lifetime.

"It is a perfect way to show my daughter what a special person she is to me," said Varner. "She loves her books at home -- especially all of the princess stories. [At the dance,] she can role play being that princess she loves reading about."

Making that night special for the girls was very important. The Father Daughter Dance allows the girls to dance as long as they desire, which could very well mean their father gets no time to sit.

"During the very last dance," said Oldfield. "There was one dad out on the dance floor with his three year old daughter holding her in his arms. He told me, 'if [the party] went all night, she would have stayed all night.' She did not want to leave."

Servicemembers and retirees from Clear Air Station, Eielson Air Force Base and Ft. Wainwright were present with their daughters of all ages, in elegant gowns and tiaras.

This event is not just for babies and toddlers. It is a special event even for teens and daughters of all ages, said Oldfield, whose father also showed up to be with her.

The effort and imagination shown by the fathers was essential in making a special night even more memorable for the daughters that shared the experience.

"It is truly a special night to remember," said Varner, who adorned Grace's wrist with a corsage. "This is the second year we have attended the ball and I hope there will be Father Daughter Balls wherever we move next so I can share the experience with her and her two six-month-old sisters, Catherine and Victoria."

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