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Fun at the Father/Daughter Dance

By ELDON PITTS - For The Courier-Times

The New Castle Armory was filled with smiles and laughter Saturday night as girls enjoyed an evening with their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and father figures. It was the seventh-annual Father/Daughter Dance, sponsored by the Henry County Fatherhood Initiative.

Tony Stewart organized the event seven years ago, along with Brett Fischer and Dusty Neal.

Stewart said the event has grown from 80-85 people the first year to more than 400 Saturday night, the most attendance so far. It grew so quickly that the event had to change venues from Spiceland’s Hoover Hall the first year, to the W.G. Smith Building in Memorial Park and finally to the New Castle Armory.

“It’s just having a good time,” Stewart said of the event. “I hope they realize how important it is to spend time with their girls and they’ll take the opportunity to do it more often. There’s really nothing for our organization that we’re expecting. It’s all about just giving guys a chance to spend time with their girls.

“It’s just a celebration and a time to have fun,” Stewart added.

Those in the crowd enjoyed refreshments, chatted and danced to the music provided by Karl Niles of Sound Investments of Central Indiana. 

Michael Hilbert was there with his daughter, Megan, a senior at Union High School in Modoc. It was their third year at the dance.

“It’s just our special night,” Michael said, which included dinner before the dance. “It’s the night she makes me be nice to her,” he joked.

“It’s just spending time with my dad, and getting him to wear a tie,” Megan said with a smile.

Aaron Dicken was there with his 5-year-old daughter, Elle, for their third time.

“It’s a special night to spend quality time with my daughter, Dicken said. “Our lives are pretty hectic, with everybody running around. To slow it down and make it a special night is something. She (Elle) has already told me it’s the best night ever.” 

“I think it’s huge for our community to have the dads invested in this way. They had to cut off our RSVPs this year because it got too crowded,” he added. “But there’s probably not any place bigger than this (armory) to have it.”

“I don’t know how the Fatherhood Initiative does it,” Dicken said. “I assume it takes a lot of planning and I know they’re investing a lot into it. And you can tell. It’s a great event.”

It was the first year for Ben Burris and his young daughter, Brileigh, to attend.

“The first of many, I’m sure,” Burris said. “I think it’s a great thing for the community, a good way for fathers to spend time with their daughters. We’re definitely going to make it an annual thing for us.”

New Castle Mayor Greg York was there with his granddaughter, Josie Privett, a sophomore at New Castle High School.

“I think it’s awesome,” said York, who is involved with the Donuts With Dads program in the elementary schools. “I think it’s time that dads step up to the plate and be dads for their kids, get involved with them and have activities with them.

“Anything like this, where dads get out with their kids and participate in something fun, I’m all for it,” York said. “Anything I can do to help. I’m always trying to get dads involved with their kids, whether it’s daughters or sons, either one.”

“It’s pretty cool,” Josie said, noting she would like to go to the dance again.