Jewel-bedecked ladies and their gallant gentlemen in dashing formal attire and military regalia entered the ballroom as two young squires swept the double doors aside and bade them a good evening.
Twinkling lights glittered from every angle, and tables laden with flowers and sweets tempted the guests to try a morsel or two. Music flowed around the grand hall and shy voices could be heard singing along, “chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, flap, flap, flap, flap, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.”
No, this wasn’t some odd dream interrupted by a funny ring-tone. The 2017 Daddy-Daughter Banquet hosted by the Chapel Next Men’s Ministry, Friday at the Commons, was truly a magical night for all in attendance.
As they arrived, the dads took their daughters’ coats and hung them carefully in the hall before joining them to help guess how many pink and red candies were in a glass jar. After the daughters submitted their best guess they received their table number, and the fathers escorted them to the ballroom bedecked in twinkling lights, balloons, and of course, Valentine’s candy.
The couples then had their photos taken in traditional formal fashion as well as a silly photo for a keepsake. They then moved on to complete a keepsake craft: thumbprint hearts with a special message from father to daughter.
The dads, mostly career Soldiers, were especially attentive to their young dates, holding chairs, refilling punch and water goblets, even helping to re-tie a bow or buckle a shoe. There were looks of admiration all around as the young ladies looked up at their fathers with bright smiles and open arms.
Chaplain (Capt.) Danny Crosby spearheaded the event and served as the master of ceremonies. Crosby is the 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team chaplain and a father himself. He spoke to the fathers about the importance of prayer between them and their daughters.
As a father, Crosby could sympathize with some of the prayers the fathers may want to use.
“God, please don’t send some knucklehead to like my little girl,” he said with a chuckle as he addressed the attendees, saying that although that can feel important, if the dads raise their daughters with spiritual values in their hearts, knuckleheads won’t be a problem.
Among those attending the banquet were Sgt. 1st Class Todd Styles, 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, and his two daughters, Danielle, 16, and Jessa, 13. The Family had looked forward to the event, and they were thankful Styles could be home to take his girls.
“This is something I can cherish,” Danielle said about the evening out with her dad.
Jessa happily nodded her agreement. They both said they were looking forward to dancing with their dad, and although he is no Fred Astaire, it’s still a special event for them, especially since he recently returned from deployment.
Styles spoke about his time deployed and how, even though he can’t believe he admits it, he missed his girls’ bickering and “carrying on.”
“You don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s gone,” he said, smiling at his girls.
The sisters didn’t show any signs of their penchant for arguing throughout the night. They shared a very tender moment when the song “Cinderella,” by Steven Curtis Chapman, came on. Styles gently took Danielle’s hand as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“This was the song she wanted to dance with Dad to,” Jessa explained, wiping a tear from her own eye. She smiled and watched her dad and sister spin slowly around the dance floor.
There was more dancing of all kinds, because no evening out would be complete without the Hokey Pokey, Chicken Dance (“chirp, flap, wiggle”) or the Electric Slide.
Crosby also introduced a couple of games, one of which had the dads trying to identify their daughter’s voice while blindfolded. Uproarious laughter ensued when a father picked the wrong voice, and the girls giggled and shook their heads.
The only dad to correctly guess his daughter’s voice was Pfc. Casey Thole, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade. His daughter Allison, 11, pretended to pout as she recounted how he knew it was her through the blindfold.
“He just knew because we were going to do something weird,” she said, smiling at her dad.
The dancing and fun continued as the dads tried to show their daughters how to properly tie a Windsor knot necktie.
Crosby encouraged the fun, making sure he made time for his own daughter, enjoying a dance, private joke and lots of smiles together.
He talked about a father’s want and need to protect his daughter.
“Protecting our daughters doesn’t just mean putting up our dukes and protecting them physically. It means protecting their hearts, protecting their minds,” Crosby said.
By showing their little girls how a gentleman should treat a lady, and participating in events like the Daddy-Daughter Banquet, they are doing just that.