Portage Parks Brings Families Together with 2016 Daddy Daughter Dance

Corsages were passed out and dates stood in line for pictures Friday night at Woodland Park, but instead of Prom or Homecoming, the Portage Parks Department held a dance for a much more special group of dates – girls and their fathers.

The Daddy-Daughter Dance, an annual Parks event, captured the hearts of Portage families once again with a night filled with balloons and dancing.

“Tonight is a great evening to build memories that last a lifetime,” Lorie Wilkie, Director of Marketing and Development for the Parks Department, said.

Wilkie, who has helped plan the dance for the past five years, said her favorite part is “seeing all the girls in their pretty dresses.”

The entire Parks staff takes all week to set up the event to make sure it is as perfect as possible, Wilkie said. Luckily, they recently found a routine and continue to hire the same caterer, DJ and photographer because of the great services they provide.

“Last year we somehow got it down to a science and this year we repeated everything we did last year,” Wilkie said.

Click here to see all the photos from the 2016 Daddy Daughter Dance!

This year, 380 people were admitted to the event, according to Wilkie. After a crowd of 520 people two years ago, the Parks Department realized they needed to have a limit, and tried to keep it at 370. Although they were able to stick to this limit last year, the demand grew too high, and attritional 10 were granted admittance for 2016. A waiting list held 20 more people, and even more were turned away.

To avoid the line, fathers can begin registering beginning Dec. 1 each year.

“Get your tickets early,” Wilkie advised.

AJ Monroe, Portage Director of Public Works, and his 7-year-old daughter, Teagan, attended their third Daddy-Daughter Dance this year.?

“The Parks Department has done a great job,” AJ Monroe said.

For Teagan, the best parts are the dancing and the popular Balloon Drop, when, she explains, “the ropes drop and you get to get the balloons [that come down from the ceiling] and take them home.”

The event also appeals to teens as much as it does to their younger counterparts.

Zoe Kolosci, 13, said she has been to seven dances with her father and plans to come for many years to come, eventually bringing her baby sister along to experience the special occasion.

Kolosci most enjoys dressing up, hanging with friends and, of course, dancing. “My favorite memory is probably the slow dances with my dad,” Kolosci said. The Daddy-Daughter Dance has taken place for over 20 years, but Kolosci does not think that is quite enough.

“I think it should keep going because it’s a great experience for any girl or even woman, because I’ve seen older women going with their father,” Kolosci said. “I think that’s a wonderful opportunity because a lot of the time the dads are the ones working, so the girls don’t get to bond with their father as much, and this just gives them a really, really good chance of getting that special connection.”