Daddies and their little girls savor special date


WESTMINSTER -- Taller or shorter, younger or older, the young ladies didn't compare what their dates looked like.

For each one, he was perfect -- he was Daddy.

In celebration of Father's Day, the city sponsored its second Daddy/Daughter Date on Thursday night at Martin's Westminster.

A formal evening for the little woman and her favorite guy cost $32.50. The ticket included a corsage for the daughter, a boutonniere for Dad, sit-down dinner, dancing and games. A formal portrait of the two, a generator of many nervous giggles, was provided as a souvenir of the evening.

Preparing to pose for their formal shot, a tiny tot reached up and straighted her father's tie as he knelt down to talk to her.

"You look very nice," she reassured him.

Meanwhile, another couple was already positioned for the picture, Dad seated in the chair with his daughter standing alongside and leaning on his arm.

"Are you smiling?" she asked with a giggle, gently nudging him in the back.

As with last year's event, planners asked that the evening be a one-on-one event, appealing to uncles, grandfathers, godfathers and good friends to step in for gals who had to share their father with their sisters.

But the choice of who got to be Daddy's girl was sticky for some families, who called recreation director Carol Donovan and asked that she bend the rules.

"We told them it's not for everyone," Donovan said. "We told them we wanted it to be a date, not Dad's night out with the girls. They can do that any night."

And a date it was, the equivalent of a junior prom for the kindergarten- to eighth-grade set. Each gal was wined and dined with Shirley Temples and fried chicken and learned how to slow dance or do the Twist with her father.

Teaching Dad how to do the Electric Slide was less successful, on the other hand, as the dancing lines collided and burst into spasms of giggles.

Many of the couples attending this year were repeats.

Tara St. George and Carrie Serio, both 9 and best friends from Brownies, said their dads asked them to come this year, rather than the other way around.

"We really liked coming last year," Carrie said shyly, smiling under a white hat with a big pink polka-dotted bow that matched her dress. "We really liked the dancing and the food. The food was real good."

Katy Tindale and Shannon Strauss, both 12, returned to see if they could recapture first and second place, respectively, in the look-alike contest with their fathers. Both were disappointed that Donovan had eliminated that competition.

"I even shaved my beard, hoping that we could get first place again," said Wayne Tindale.

Other fathers asked daughters out to show them how special they are in their fathers' eyes.

"She's my only daughter," Steve Bassler said of 12-year-old Erin. "I've got three sons and thought this would be a nice thing to do."

A major hit of the evening was the now-annual musical chairs contest, with Dad being the chair. Squealing little girls ran around the circle trying to find an empty knee when the music stopped without as much as a glance to see who that lap belonged to.

"This is really hard," one father commented, grateful to be chosen as one of the "chairs" to be removed.

Finally, as the evening drew to a close, DJ Scott Alban played the perennial favorite "Daddy's Little Girl" as some of the helpers wished their own daughters were present.

"Last year, when they played this slow dance, I got tears in my eyes," said Wayne Pahl, manager of Martin's Westminster, whose children are grown. "I just had to call my daughter and take her to dinner and have a date."

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