LAND O'LAKES — Dresses and suits took over the gymnasium of the Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex on Friday for the fourth annual Dads and Daughters Dance.
About 80 fathers brought their little girls for a night of fun and dancing.
"We always have a great response for this event," recreation leader Erica Fechter said. "The dads really seem to like it more than the girls. We needed an event that gave the dads something more specific to their daughters, so we came up with this and people really loved it. I've seen familiar faces again this year, people just keep coming back for it."
Open to girls under 15 and their male role models — whether it's an uncle, grandfather or father — the event is both active and social. Luigi Livorno attended with his 9-year-old granddaughter McKenzie Whalen for the second year in a row, and was excited to see her socialize with other kids her age and enjoy a special occasion.
"This event is good because it has taught her a lesson about the importance of dressing nice and looking good," Livorno said. "We came last year and it was tons of fun. She's always asking me all kinds of questions, like what she should wear and what shoes go with what. It's good for the kids to start learning those kinds of things at such a young age and it's fun to see them enjoy themselves in a formal environment."
For Jaime Leclair, attending the dance with his 10-year-old daughter Paige was a chance to bond in a fun environment. She was impressed at her father's dance moves, but dad was just happy to get the chance to do something that his daughter enjoyed.
"It's pretty cool that the rec center does this," Leclair said. "We had talked to some people who came last year so we thought we'd give it a shot. They do a really nice job putting it all together and making it a fun night for the girls, so I'm glad we did."
Local businesses serve as sponsors for the event and donate food, drinks and services that make staging the event possible under the recreation complex's limited budget. Over the past four years, the dance has become a staple of the recreation center's calendar and promises to be a part of it for a long time to come.
"Without sponsors we couldn't do this because we don't have the budget on our own," Fechter said. "Local businesses have been very supportive of this event which we can't say enough for."