Excitement filled the air as little girls in their new spring dresses spent a fairy tale evening with the most handsome man in the world - their dad - at the second annual Daddy Daughter Dance held at the Sheraton National hotel in Arlington, Va., April 7.
The Henderson Hall Family Readiness Program sponsored the dance to give busy Marine dads quality time with their daughters. The Marine Corps is aware of the sacrifices military Families make, therefore, the Marine Corps Family Readiness Program supports Families with activities such as dances. The event was coordinated by Stephen McElvine, the Family Readiness officer, and Maj. Ronald White.
“The dance allows Marine dads and daughters an opportunity to strengthen the special bond only a father can have with his daughter,” said White.
White noticed fathers specifically having difficulty relating and talking to their daughters when spending time with them.
“The relationship of a father to his daughter is so important because it affects their lives in so many different ways,” he added.
Often, Marines will spend long periods away from their Families deployed or working late at the office. Military children learn early on they must make sacrifices too.
“This is a fantastic event. I don't get to go out very often with my daughter Isabelle, so it's nice to have an opportunity to go out and have some fun together,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Sieber, who works at the Pentagon.
“I think it's great spending time with him because most the time he's at work,” said Isabelle, 8.
Sieber, like most of the Marines, wore his dress blue uniform to the formal dance.
“I like him in his uniform. I think he looks hot in his dress blues,” said Isabelle.
Leading by example, White brought his three daughters: Amelia, 4, Abigail, 3, and Annette, 9 months to the dance.
“My dada's wearing his beautiful uniform,” said Amelia. “Mom got my daddy daughter dress out of the dryer for the dance.”
In full support of the event, the Headquarters and Service Battalion Commander, Col. Ira M. Cheatham, brought his two daughters Sofia, 9 and Carmen, 7 to the dance. H & S Bn. Executive Commander Lt. Col. Marcus Hewett was also in attendance with his daughter Marlasia, 11.
White introduced Cheatham, who welcomed the more than 140 dads and daughters to the dance.
“First, let's give our beautiful little daughters a round of applause,” said Cheatham.
Then, the commander addressed all the daughters in the audience and encouraged them to get their dads out on the dance floor and dance.
White brought the idea for a dance from his previous base, Camp Pendleton, to Henderson Hall. Encouraged by last year's positive response, he worked together with McElvine to organize this year's dance with the support of the battalion command.
“This year the dance has gotten so popular; three times more people attended than last year,” said White. “People are finding out by word of mouth and daughters are bugging their dads to go.”
The dance included a studio photograph of daughters with their dad, arts and crafts to decorate a picture frame for dad, a buffet, disk jockey and the much anticipated daddy hula hoop contest.
The daddy hula-hoop contest winner was the last daddy standing with a hula-hoop still rotating. The grand prize included a Family stay at the Great Wolf Lodge and water park near Colonial Williamsburg.
“I practiced my winning hula-hoop technique 15 minutes max,” said Robert Taglianetti. “There was no way it was staying up around my middle. I went with the neck, the arm and the leg.”
The Taglianetti daughters, Abigail, 11, and Ester, 8 both agreed their favorite part of the evening was watching their dad compete in the hula-hoop contest.
Near the close of the evening a fireworks display from the National Cherry Blossom Festival burst into the sky captivating the little girls for a perfect fairy tale ending.