The Valdosta Daily Times
“Teach her that if she acts stupid to attract boys, she’ll attract stupid boys” was one of the many messages shared between fathers and daughters at this year’s annual valentine dance.
Another successful event has come and gone for Jeff Stewart and his First Presbyterian Church family. Selling 5,065 tickets total for the Friday and Saturday dances, the event has become the largest father-daughter dance in the nation.
Hundreds of young ladies and women enjoyed themselves this year as they got all dolled up and danced by their daddies’ sides.
Mark Micklon and his seven-year-old daughter, Emma, had a blast as they hit the dance floor for their fifth year.
“We love to dance and we love to twirl,” Micklon said.
The popular songs of the night were “Gangnam Style,” “The Electric Slide,” “YMCA” and “The Chicken Dance.”
As the dance progressed through the night, Jeff Stewart made his rounds to greet as many fathers and daughters as he could.
“I got my comfortable shoes on,” Stewart said.
One of the many families Jeff was proud to introduce was the Eadys. Willie Eady, the father of four daughters — Marie, Grace, Bobbie and Janice — enjoyed the company of his girls.
“He is 77 years old and this is his first time here,” Marie Eady said.
Among the fathers, grandfathers and stepfathers of the crowd were Lee Andrews and his two goddaughters, Olivia and Skylar West.
“It’s our fourth year. It’s a fun time to hang out with them and just celebrate them,” Andrews said.
As the couples enjoy their quality time together, Jerrell Mason appreciates the little things with his 9-year-old daughter Andria.
“We’ve been coming for three years. I love just being here with her, her smile and laughter,” Mason said.
Grateful for the opportunity each year, dads are thankful to Jeff for starting an event that teaches a life’s lesson.
Willie White, of the U.S. Army Reserve, is happy he can bring his daughter Jasmyn, 6, for their third year in a row since retiring from the military.
“It’s something I always wanted to do while I was in the military,” White said.
As the dance reached its final moments of the night, Jeff stood back and appreciated everyone and everything that made this year possible.
“We’ve exceeded anything we ever thought. Reaching 5,000 people confirms we are the largest dance in the nation,” Stewart said.
This year, Jeff’s two daughters, Macy and Melissa, were able to participate and stand by their father’s side.
“I was six when it started, love it, I am so proud of them. Love to see how much everyone loves coming,” Macy Stewart said.
Residing in Atlanta, Macy, a preschool special education teacher, and Melissa, a student at the University of Georgia, are happy to spend time with their dad.
“I was two when it started. I love it, it’s really sweet to see how the dads love their daughters,” Melissa Stewart said.
As the attendance numbers continue to go up, Jeff might have to take into consideration a bigger location.
“We sell 1,500 tickets per dance; we offer 6,000 tickets total,” Stewart said. “Now we have exceeded 5,000.”
As the night came to an end, fathers and daughters could share their precious memories of the night until they can create more in a year’s time.
As another event has passed for Jeff Stewart, he will never forget how it all started. From 170 people originally, to 5,000 now, Jeff feels blessed and ready to start planning for his 18th year.