Fathers’s night


Tony Merry wanted to make sure his 8-year-old daughter would never forget Saturday night.

He gave her chocolates and flowers and allowed her to pick out the yellow shirt he wore to match the yellow dress she planned to wear.

Together, the two headed to Girls Inc. of Jackson County in Seymour and danced, took pictures, snacked and played games.

“We’ll probably hit up some Chinese when we get done,” the Hayden resident said with a smile. “It’s kind of like a date.”

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It’s the fourth year Tony Merry has brought his only daughter, Autumn Rose Merry, to the Girls Inc.’s Father Daughter Dance, and he hopes as she gets older those memories don’t fade away.

“It’s something I want her to remember,” he said as they stood in line to have their picture taken.

The two were just a few of the many dance partners who attended the event.

It wasn’t long after the doors opened at 6 p.m. that the dance floor was flooded with dresses swirling and twirling as little voices mimicked pop songs played by the disc jockey.

Despite the winter storm that battered the county on Saturday morning, the event for members and non-members went off without a hitch, offering a chance for girls of all ages to cut loose with their father, family friend or male guardian.

“It’s about that one, one, one special time,” Girls Inc. program director Kelly Royer said.

Royer said 226 tickets were bought this year, and she felt confident most of those who purchased tickets were in attendance Saturday.

The event, which costs $10 for those attending, pays for itself and allows girls to bring dad or any other male figure in their lives along as long they are 16 years or older. 

Royer said it’s important to carve out that time for bonding.

“We don’t take time in our daily lives,” she said. “We’re so busy with work and with school and with sports and everything that goes on in our lives, we forget that special one-on-one time — that special bonding. It’s kind of important for them to stop an say, ‘It’s just us tonight.'”

She said it was a hard call to decide if the dance should be canceled or not due to snow-covered roads. But she said they decided to go through with it because some of attendees, including her brother, who flew in from Florida with his daughter, live outside the county and had made advanced plans to attend.

Royer said she received only one complaint about the decision and was satisfied with the turnout.

Besides the snacks, a variety of other activities besides dancing were available throughout the building including carnival games, bingo, basketball, craft-making and professional photos.

For some, it’s the one night a year they can put all the busy-ness of their life aside and just have fun.

“This is my and her time to be with each other; it’s our one date night a year,” Howard Ledbetter said.

Ledbetter was in attendance with his 11-year-old daughter, Caylee, who is a Seymour Middle School student. 

He said she’s involved in competitive travel softball, making night’s like Saturday few and far between.

“As of a couple of more weeks, she’ll be playing ball, and we don’t get time,” he said.

They both said their favorite part is the dancing because they enter the dance competition and have even won it in the past.

When asked what kind of moves they pull out for the contest, Caylee couldn’t narrow it down to just one.

“Everything,” she said, wearing a fuzzy, white cardigan, purple dress and matching eye shadow.

“I follow her lead,” Dad chimed in.

Coby Moore accompanied his two daughters to the dance and both girls, wearing dresses and elegantly hair-styled, came for different reasons.

“I like that you get to spend time with your father,” said 9-year-old Jaidyn.

“I get candy,” said 7-year-old Kylei. Both the girls are Emerson Elementary School students.

Coby Moore said he spends many hours at his job in Louisville, and said it’s nice to have a night out with the pair.

“It’s fun that we get out without mom,” he said.

Emma, 4, and Sophia Doriot, 2, wore matching white dresses and bows to the event and were following alongside their dad, John Doriot.

The Seymour resident said he tries to incorporate the event into a whole night of spending time together.

“We’ll hang out here for awhile and then go to dinner,” he said. “They’re excited about going out to Applebee’s together.”

As for their mom, he said she teamed up with some other moms who were going to be at home during the dance.

“They’re having a ladies night out,” John Doriot said.

Six-year-old Patty Todd, a Seymour-Jackson Elementary School student, knew exactly why she came to the dance for the first time ever on Saturday.

“Dancing,” she said, wearing a dress her grandmother helped picked out.

Her dad, Kurt Todd, said she made it clear that he’s her date, not that of her 8-year-old sister, Eden, who came accompanied by their grandpa.

“She made it plain and simple I was her date tonight, and she (Eden) has to go with Papaw,” he said.

When asked if he was going to show off his dancing skills with the girls, he said he would try his best — mostly because he wanted them to have a great night.

“I will, but it won’t be pretty,” he said, smiling. “As long as they are happy, it’s OK.”

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“We don’t take time in our daily lives,” she said. “We’re so busy with work and with school and with sports and everything that goes on in our lives, we forget that special one-on-one time — that special bonding. It’s kind of important for them to stop an say, ‘It’s just us tonight,'” said Kelly Royer, program director at Girls Inc. of Jackson County.


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