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Annual daddy daughter dance a success

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SWEET MEMORIES:Heath Duke and his daughter, Ava, 6, share a moment together during the annual Daddy Daughter Dance in the Garden House at Matter Park on Friday evening.
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BONDING TIME:Kyle Martin dances with his girlfriend’s daughter, Ella Mercer, 3, during the annual Daddy-Daughter Dance in the Garden House at Matter Park on Friday evening.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@chronicle-tribune.com

The Garden House of Matter Park witnessed many little girls being whisked across the dance floor by their fathers Friday night for the annual Daddy Daughter Dance.

The Daddy Daughter Dance is sponsored by the Garden and Parks Department of Marion. The dance was actually suggested by a mother in the community who wanted her daughters to have a special night with their father. After the first dance was such a hit, the department decided to make it an annual event.

This is the fifth year for the dance and Event Coordinator Julie Fauser, couldn’t be happier about it.

“I think it’s wonderful for daughters to have special time with their fathers because they are their first male role models,” she said.

The girls and their fathers had fun with this year’s theme, the ’50s, as they sported poodle skirts and leather jackets.

In years past, they’ve done Western, Under the Sea, and several others that Fauser hopes shakes things up a bit. In the end, the department always tries to pick a theme the girls and fathers will enjoy.

“The dads, no matter what they do, they’re just so excited to be here with their kids,” said Julia Glessner, assistant director for the Gardens.

In fact, one father in particular may have been even more excited than his daughter.

Harry Underwood escorts his daughter, Chloe, to the dance every year. The pair loves to dance and Underwood never misses a chance to show his daughter how much she means to him.

“That little girl is my life,” he said. “She’s my princess.”

This year, Underwood was in line for his ticket even before they went on sale. As a Marion Firefighter, he works many hours and spends every chance he gets with his daughter. His favorite part about the dance is having fun with her.

“I know I’m not going to have it for, you know not even as long as I want it to be honestly, so I have to make these memories now,” he said.

As for Chloe, her favorite part about the event is, of course, dancing. However, after some prompting from her father, she told him the real reason she loves coming to the dance.

“(Be)cause I’m with you,” she said.

People come from all over Grant County for this event and every year it’s sold out, Fauser said. This year was no different as dads and their daughters came together under one roof.

“We’re probably right around 100 people,” Fauser said.

On top of having a photographer to capture the evening for fathers and daughters, the dance also featured a raffle with prizes that included Splash House certificates, jewelry, nail painting kits and more for the girls.

According to Fauser, the Garden and Parks Department breaks even almost every year when it comes to this event. However, if they do make a little money it is put back into their special event funds.

But of course the real reason has nothing to do with money. 

“They get to be little girls, but they get to go to a dance,” Glessner said of the night’s real purpose. “Who better to go to a dance with the very first time than your dad?”

Fauser added she hopes to host another event for mothers and their sons. Her goal is to have the first dance in the fall.