Text and photos by Ray Balogh
SYRACUSE — Daddies, grandpas and their little angels shared an evening of enchantment at the 2021 Lakeland Youth Center Daddy-Daughter Dance Saturday, May 22, in the Activities Center of Quaker Haven Camp.
The theme, “Dancing in the Clouds,” was represented by plentiful decorations, the venue festooned with white balloons and cotton cumulus clouds.
The craft room stayed busy with many of the 360 or so attendees making cloud lanterns out of plastic foam cups and cotton balls and Beer Concessions handed out about 250 servings of cotton candy.
Another room provided an opportunity to pose for take-home portraits.
Quaker Haven provided the dinner, which consisted of a taco bar with tortillas, chips, meat and all the fixings, and an ice cream table where the kids could make their own sundaes.
The annual event has run for about a decade and has grown every year. “We had to find a new location this year because we didn’t have enough room elsewhere, and even so we had a waiting list of about 30 people,” said Cassie Correll, LYC’s activity director.
“All the proceeds go back to programing for LYC.” The dance, usually held in March, was slightly delayed this year by the COVID pandemic.
“I’d like to give props to Quaker Haven,” said Correll. “They were really accommodating and helpful to make sure they could house all of us. They have really been great.”
Crystal Malone, a former employee of LYC, volunteered at the check-in table and remarked about the excitement of the guests.
“This is a really good time for them to have that bond and for the girls to socialize with their school friends.”
“The girls just light up and love getting all dressed up and getting out there with whoever they brought,” echoed Amanda Torres, administrative assistant for Syracuse Parks Department, fully aware of the reference about who really brought whom.
“One girl has two brothers and this is her daddy and daughter time.”
And they danced. Oh, did they dance.
All evening the dance floor was crowded with joy-filled girls in flowing dresses and ballerina and princess outfits, paired up with the men in their lives, many dressed in suits and ties or tuxedos.
Jamie Salazar, a DJ in Syracuse, blasted nonstop music to keep the action going. He played a wide variety of genres, from “Twist Again” by Chubby Checker to “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers to “We Built This City” by Jefferson Starship to selections by Michael Jackson and Elton John.
He shouted instructions for group dancing to songs like “YMCA,” “Macarena,” “Cotton Eye Joe” and “Cha Cha Slide.”
As the evening drew to a close, the dance floor was still jammed with energetic little perpetual motion darlings, fueled by cotton candy and ice cream sundaes, accompanied by steadily fatiguing daddies and grandpas determined, as always, to go the distance for their beloved little girls.