LIMA — Jay Terry walked into the Father Daughter Valentine Dance at the YMCA on Saturday excited and honored to be his 10-year-old daughter’s date for her first formal dance.
“It brings back a lot of memories. I was kind of nervous walking in because it’s the first time I’ve been to a dance in a long time other than something I’ve chaperoned,” said Terry, who is a middle school teacher in Elida.
Terry and his daughter, Elizabeth, were having a fun-filled night with dinner or ice cream planned later. Terry said the event is an excellent chance to show his daughter and the young girls attending how a girl should be treated.
“This shows her what it’s like to be respected,” he said. “The thing she should expect from here on out.”
The YMCA held the dance for the seventh year. It’s for girls from toddlers to age 12. Similar events are held at YMCAs across the country, said Katie Mefferd, the teen leadership development direct at the Lima YMCA.
“It’s an event that allows the father to show the daughter how a gentleman treats a lady,” Mefferd said.
More than 200 people signed up for the two-hour night of fun. Many treat it like a formal high school dance with fathers taking their daughters to dinner before the dance, Mefferd said.
Peter Citerin accompanied his daughter, Janae, 11, to the dance, his first formal dance since prom in high school more than 20 years ago, he said.
“We saw they were having a positive family event and just wanted to be a part of it,” Citerin said.
Janae said she enjoys dancing and this gave her another chance.
“I danced at my uncle’s wedding,” she said of the last time she danced.
For Ken Rexford, the dance with his 3-year-old daughter, Charlee Burd, was special. While she stood shorter than his waist, they still enjoyed time on the dance floor.
“She’s having a good time,” Rexford said.
Last year, Rexford brought his 12-year-old daughter to the dance and was taken back by something that happened. He sat at a table with a sheriff’s deputy he knew and a former client he represented as an attorney in a criminal case.
“It was nice seeing a defense attorney, a cop and an ex-con all sitting talking about their girls,” he said, noting they shared a common bond in the fact all were fathers of girls.
On a personal level, for Rexford, these dances represent a time he missed out on as a youth.
“I didn’t even go to dances in high school,” Rexford said. “This is my prom.”