Kevin Lungren and his daughter, Emma, have been attending South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s Dad and Daughter Ball “since Emma could walk.”
“There are many things fathers and sons can share, and not so many obvious things for dads and daughters,” Kevin Lungren wrote in an email to The Record. “It’s a special evening for just the two of us.”
As Emma is 18 and preparing to head off to college, this will be the final year she and her father attend.
Children grow up all too quickly, he said, and it is important to create lasting memories.
The dad and daughter ball began about 13 years ago and has become a popular annual event for South Whidbey families, a chance for young women and their male guardians to bond and spend quality time together while mingling with fellow families and friends.
This year’s event will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at the South Whidbey High School Commons.
Tickets cost $27 per child and guardian pair.
Carrie Monforte, programs coordinator for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, noted that girls may bring any guardian they choose, though the majority of attendees are fathers and daughters.
“We don’t turn anybody away that wants to be there,” Monforte said.
Monforte added that all age groups are welcome as well, though the night is usually a bit shorter for infants than for 17 and 18 year olds. The younger crowd tends to retire earlier.
Attendance has steadily climbed throughout the years, peaking at about 275 last year.
“It’s a large cross-section of people that come,” Monforte said.
Dads or daughters with two left feet need not worry, she added, as it is really all about having fun and bonding. A DJ will provide an upbeat medley of tunes and the price of admission includes a raffle ticket, refreshments, a photo and a flower.
Richard Newman has been attending with his 14-year-old daughter, Carli, for about seven years.
Newman resides in Mukilteo while Carli lives in Langley with her mom. But Newman said he makes bonding with his daughter a priority, both by teaching her to fly and through activities like the dad and daughter ball.
“I just think it is really neat,” Newman said of the dance. “It puts dads and daughters in a really good light.”
The media is awash with negative images of absentee or unfavorable dads, Newman said, and the ball is a good opportunity for families to reaffirm positive relationships.
Monforte noted that as girls progress into teenage years, it can become more difficult for them to maintain relationships with their parents. The dance is one activity which can help girls and their male guardians to get to know one another better.
For the Lungrens and Newmans, the dance has become a tradition which has strengthened their relationship.
“I wish a lot more dads would sign up and bring their daughters with them,” Newman said. “I think they are missing the boat.”