Lifestyle

Valentine’s Dance draws record crowds in Marysville

MARYSVILLE — “Oh, it’s the social event of the year,” Jason Hoffman said, drawing giggles from his 10-year-old daughter, Katie, as they stood in line to get their portrait photos and take to the dance floor Feb. 12. “You’ve got the red carpets, local celebrities and the press. It’s larger than life.”

Hoffman was speaking with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but the sixth annual Father/Daughter Valentine’s Dance in Marysville packed record crowds into the Cedarcrest Middle School cafeteria on the afternoons and evenings of Feb. 5 and 12. According to city of Marysville Recreation Coordinator Andrea Kingsford, an estimated 215 couples turned out for each of the four dances this year, with roughly half of those attendees registering online through the city’s new “ePlay” service.

“Tickets went on sale Jan. 10 and had already sold out within two weeks,” said Maryke Burgess, who volunteered this year and has coordinated the event in years past. “Because it’s our sixth year, we’re seeing a lot of returning dads and daughters who know the routines by now, but we’re also still seeing some first-time attendees.”

Mike Williams and his 11-year-old daughter, Bailey, had attended the dance two years ago, but tickets sold out before they could register last year. They made sure to register early this year for the Feb. 5 dance.

“We never really do enough things together,” Mike Williams said. “It’s just nice to have a couple of hours with no worries, where she can dress up and we can get out of the house.”

“Of all the things I do with my dad, this is one of the things I like to do most,” Bailey said.

David Maldonado and Deon Ferguson were both first-time attendees who made the dances part of full evenings out with their daughters, which included restaurant dinners.

“So what do you want to hear tonight?” Ferguson asked his 8-year-old daughter, Mishka, before teasing her, “I know you want to say Justin Bieber.”

“Michael Jackson, Dad,” Mishka said, rolling her eyes but smiling at him nonetheless.

Robin Snow, who brought 8-year-old daughter Muriel Wilson, agreed with Ferguson that their work schedules often limit the amount of time they can spend with their daughters, while Mike Sharp, who brought his 9-year-old daughter Kendra, echoed Hoffman’s praise for the dances as opportunities for one-on-one bonding time between fathers and daughters.

“It’s the only night of the year that I want to wear a dress,” Katie Hoffman said.

Burgess thanked the event’s sponsors for helping to make the ticket prices as affordable as they were, and noted that many sponsors went “above and beyond” in supporting the dances, among them Bob’s Burgers & Brew, which supplied meal coupons for dads looking to take their daughters to dinner.

“All the girls gave their dads hugs and thanked them for the night out,” Burgess said. “We’re very proud that we’ve been able to establish a tradition that creates fond memories for fathers and daughters for years to come.”

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