Local News

February 10, 2012

Dancing with dad: 185 fathers and daughters take to dance floor

LOGANSPORT — Robert Kesling remembers eight years ago when he swooped his daughter Anna off her feet and swayed on the dance floor with the young lady that makes his heart melt.

Though Kesling can no longer pick up the 12-year-old who stands just one foot shy of him, the two still have that bond that they celebrate annually at Logansport Parks and Recreation Department’s Daddy/Daughter Valentine Dance.

“It’s a tradition, and I love being with my dad,” Anna Kesling said at Thursday’s dance.

The popular dance started more than 10 years ago at McHale Complex in Riverside Park. In 2008, it moved to Cass County Memorial Home to accommodate more people.

This year, a second dance was added to make sure no one was turned away, and 84 dads and 101 daughters attended one of the two events.

“It’s like a prom with your dad,” said parks department activities director Vicki Ward. “A lot of them will go out to eat first, and then they come in with their little wrist corsages, and then they spend an hour and a half with their dad. You can’t beat it.”

Ward credited the vision and assistance of Carolyn Holcomb with making the dances successful. Proceeds benefit programs in the parks department.

Ward said people started calling in November for the hottest Valentine’s-related dance ticket in town, and the first dance was booked in the first four days that tickets were available.

It was the seventh dance for Courtney Justice and his 12-year-old daughter, Emily, who gets a new dress every year.

“This is just the last stop before boys and high school,” he said with beads of sweat on his forehead after the two just came off the dance floor. “It’s bittersweet. It’s a never-ending joy, having a daughter.”

Steve Isaacs couldn’t help but rest his head on his hand and watch his 7-year-old daughter, Hannah, color pictures before the two hit the dance floor.

“It’s really special to them and to us,” he said of the dance. “You still get to be there with them and show them how you should be treated when you’re taken out. As dads, we treat them like a lady and hope that they get a guy that treats them that way when they get older.”

It’s a tough rite of passage that Branden Scott has come to terms with for his daughter, Anastasia, 12.

“This is really our only chance for it to be just us,” he said. “It’s my chance to make sure she realizes that there’s going to be other guys in her life, but Dad’s always going to be there.”

Anastasia said the dance helps her realize how good she has it.

“I feel luckier than most people because some of them only have a mom and no dad,” she said. “Or some just have a dad who has to work all of the time. This is really fun because I get to spend time with my dad.”

And it’s that time — short, but sweet — that dads cherished on the dance floor Thursday, whether it was gliding to Justin Bieber or flapping their arms to “The Chicken Dance.”

“Next year, it’s going to be dances with boys, I suppose,” Kesling said as he looked at his daughter in a long, red dress and sparkling jewelry. “But Dad won’t be far away.”

• Jason M. Rodriguez is news editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or

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