by Vicki Ikeogu
Men sporting suits and ties. Girls dressed up in high heels, makeup and dresses of all styles and colors.
A scene that could have easily been lifted from the ballroom dance in Disney’s Cinderella was replicated inside the Gorecki Center on the College of St. Benedict’s on Saturday, March 3.
Now in its fifth year, the Daddy Daughter Date Night celebration gathered fathers and grandfathers from around the area for a night of food, dancing and activities with girls ranging from ages 2 to 15.
“We all lead very busy lives in todays world,” said Stephanie Theisen, executive director of Leighton Events, a division of Leighton Broadcasting. “And events like this allow us time to connect with our kids.”
Theisen said Daddy Daughter Date Night was the idea of a former employee at Leighton Broadcasting. As a father of three girls, Theisen said, this employee had wanted to create an event to bring fathers and daughters together.
“And Leighton Broadcasting supported the vision of that employee and has continued the event ever since,” Theisen said.
For Charles Levi of St. Cloud, Daddy Daughter Date Night is a chance he can spend with his girls.
“I had gotten tickets about two years ago (to go with my oldest daughter),” Levi said. “And she loved it.”
Levi brought his four daughters, Shaniah Payton, 9; Jaelynn Tiger, 4; Envi Tiger, 3; and Amiyah Tiger; to this year’s event.
“We got to take pictures with the princesses,” Levi said. “And we love dancing. I just love my girls so much.”
David Johnson of St. Cloud was accompanied by his two granddaughters, Kymora Gentry, 7; and Quintiana Gentry, 4.
“My wife saw this event online and thought it would be good way for us to spend some time together,” Johnson said.
Theisen said this was the first year the Daddy Daughter Date Night event was sold out well in advance of the event. About 400 fathers and daughters were in attendance.
“We’ve added a lot of new elements this year,” said Tara Traut, Leighton Broadcasting promotions and events director. “We’ve got sketch artists, balloon twisters, a photo booth and two princesses. It has really grown and become a great way for fathers and daughters to bond.”
The new features included a professional photographer, dinner (with special menus for dads and daughters), a DJ-lead dance and a make-it and take-it arts and crafts table.
“We wanted to create an event that was special,” Traut said. “An event that would be something dads and daughters would remember forever.”
“Events like this are just fun evening to remind your child of how special they are to you,” Theisen said. “It is a fun to get dressed up and get caught up in the moment and just enjoy being with your children.”
Vicki Ikeogu is a local freelance reporter from St. Cloud. Ikeogu is a 2015 mass communications graduate from St. Cloud State University. Ikeogu was previously the business reporter at the St. Cloud Times. She currently works as a transportation planner for the Saint Cloud Area Planning Organization.