Rahul Sangamkar of Seymour knows his daughter won’t stay young forever.
That’s one of the reasons he decided to bring his 6-year-old daughter, Alayna, to the annual Father Daughter Dance at Girls Inc. of Jackson County.
“I’ve wanted to go to this every single time, but this is the first time I actually got to go,” he said. “My wife is a volunteer at several different places, and she is a board member of Girls Inc. and chamber of commerce, and she’s working here tonight.”
Alayna said she was looking forward to playing some of the games and was waiting for her best friend to arrive at the dance.
Rahul’s wife, Sehrish Sangamkar, was in the gym volunteering at one of the game tables where the girls could try to guess how many Hershey’s Kisses were in the jar and enter to win a prize later in the evening.
“It’s a really fun evening and a lot of hard work is put into it, and as you can see, the kids love it,” Sehrish said.
Seymour resident Blake O’Haver brought his two daughters, Bryndal, 6, and Mera, 3, to Saturday night’s dance.
“It’s my second time to attend this, and it’s just a really fun event for the kids,” O’Haver said. “The last time I went, it was just with Bryndal since the COVID shutdown two years ago.”
He said it’s a fun way to spend time with his daughters, and they have fun getting all dolled up and dressed up.
Bryndal was looking forward to playing games, dancing and maybe winning some prizes.
For many fathers and their daughters, the dance is a tradition that includes dressing up, going out to dinner beforehand and taking lots of pictures, which are then shared by families on social media.
Conducted at Girls Inc. in Seymour, the dance attracted about 558 people, including girls as young as 2 to teenagers, accompanied by dads, stepdads, grandpas, uncles or other important male figures in their lives.
Most girls wore sparkly dresses, shoes and jewelry, their hair done up in curls and a touch of makeup, while their handsome dates wore suits and ties or dress shirts in matching colors. Many of the girls even received corsages.
This was the first time the dance has been held since 2020 because COVID hit right after that, said Kelly Royer, Girls Inc. program director.
“This is our first dance after two years, so we’re excited about that,” she said. “The girls can be any age to come and don’t have to be a member of Girls Inc.”
She said there were a lot of things planned for the evening, including dancing, refreshments, a photographer to take pictures, a cookie walk, bingo, a selfie station and all sorts of games in the gym.
“The games are everything from a football toss, cornhole, checkers, card games, ring toss and just all kinds of games,” Royer said.
She said the event has taken place annually for more than 30 years, minus the two COVID years, and the most they’ve had at one event is just over 600.
“It’s an evening for a girl to spend with a special male in her life to help build relationships,” she said. “It’s a big deal not just for the girls but for the dads, too.”
Mark Greenawalt of Seymour said he attended the event in previous years with his older daughters, Makenna and Lyndsey, but this time, it was just him and his youngest daughter, 11-year-old Kadence.
“This gives me an opportunity to do something special with the girls, and they have a reason to get all dressed up,” he said. “Whether it’s just us two or sometimes we have the other girls with us, we just get to be silly and hang out together.”
Kadence and her dad had been in the gym playing games, and she had just won a small prize playing a Plinko-style game and was looking forward to dancing, she said.
Brent Strong of Seymour also was in attendance with his two daughters, Caroline, 6, and Claire, 9, and both girls had been playing a fishing game.
“This is our first time coming here,” Strong said. “I just wanted to spend a good evening with my daughters.”
Claire said she was looking forward to dancing, and Caroline was looking forward to dancing and games.
Megan Galbreth, 10, was at the dance with her dad, B.J. Galbreth of Seymour. They had come to the event once before, the year prior to COVID.
“I’m looking forward to the dancing,” Megan said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
B.J. said he follows Megan’s lead because she is the dancer and has been teaching him some dance moves.
“We have one old-school dance that we’ll do and one song, and other than that, it’s all her lead,” he said. “She broke out the robot a little while ago, and I can do that and that’s a dad move.”
On the dance floor, Troy Wood of Seymour looked on as his 4-year-old daughter, Brooklynn, twisted and twirled to “Cha Cha Slide” on the dance floor with some other young girls. Brooklynn had her hair done up and wore a light blue sweater and a frilly skirt.
“This is our first time here, and we’ve been wanting to come for a few years, but it was canceled,” Wood said. “She really loves dancing, and it’s just a really special night for both of us.”