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'This is our tradition': Church holds Father-Daughter Valentine Dance

Children can grow up fast. To create some lasting memories, dozens of fathers brought their daughters to dance together at First Presbyterian Church on Friday.

The downtown Bakersfield church held its annual Father-Daughter Valentine Dance, giving dads the chance to spend some quality time with their children. Whether they were 6 or 16, many girls relished the chance to strengthen their bond with their dads.

“It’s a good opportunity to hang out with my daughter and make her feel special,” said Andrew Tabangcora, who brought his 9-year-old daughter, Molly, to the dance. “She loves dancing and singing, so this is really fun for her. We do a lot of other stuff together, but this is the highlight.”

Philip Bollanos brought his 16-year-old daughter, Anica, to the dance. Bollanos said he and his daughter have gone to the dance for 12 years.

“Events like this make me miss all the fun times we had when she was younger, but It’s been fun watching her grow up,” he said.

Anica said she’s also enjoyed getting to dance with her father every year.

“It’s a great way to have some bonding time,” she said. “It’s a lot more fun than doing most things on a Friday night.”

It wasn’t just fathers on the dance floor Friday. A few grandpas danced with their younger partners, trying to match their energy as much as possible. And some people who came to the dance weren’t parents at all.

One such person was Evie Pena, who brought his nieces Lily, 10, and Mimi, 5, after their dads weren’t able to make it. As Pena is not a father himself yet, Friday’s event was his first time at the dance.

“It’s a cute function,” he said. “I try to spend as much time with my nieces as I can when I’m not working, but we’ve never done anything like this together before. It’s awesome.”

One father, Jeremy Turrell, was never in need of a partner to dance with. He brought his three girls, 8-year-old Macie, 12-year-old Kayley and 14-year-old Jourden. Turrell has brought his daughters to the dance for the past six years, he said.

“I love it. It’s great to be with my girls and have a good time,” he said. “Making memories — that’s what it’s all about.”

The girls said they enjoy getting to spend time with their dad at the dance. However, one of Turrell’s daughters had a bit of good-natured criticism of her father’s dancing skills.

“He makes a fool of himself sometimes, but it’s fun,” Kayley said.

Turrell said that with his oldest now in high school, he’s coming to the realization that he doesn’t have much time left with his daughters before they reach adulthood. However, he’s not going to let adulthood get in the way of spending time with his daughters.

“This is our tradition. We’re going to keep doing it,” he said. “I don’t care if they say they’re too old, we’re still going to do it. As long as this dance is around, we’ll be here.”

Besides the dance itself, the event gave families the chance to have professional pictures taken, with proceeds donated to Little Ones Preschool. The dance also included refreshments such as cookies and punch.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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