• Pfc. Anthony Baker works on a craft project with his daughter, Alaina.

    Crafty eyes

    Pfc. Anthony Baker works on a craft project with his daughter, Alaina.

  • Kyla Byers, 6, shares one of many dances with her father, retired Staff Sgt. Whitney Byers.

    Everybody let's dance

    Kyla Byers, 6, shares one of many dances with her father, retired Staff Sgt. Whitney Byers.

ESCHENBACH, Germany -- As songs like "Unforgettable" and "Butterfly Kisses" played in the background, fathers decked out in suits and dress blues escorted their daughters to their seats as part of an evening of dining and dancing at the Netzaberg Youth Center here, Feb. 16.

With nearly 120 guests, there was no shortage of food, fun or music. Outreach Services has held the dance annually since 2007, during the peak of deployment rotations within the military community. What began as a response to a need for the community has become a much-anticipated event by participants and planners.

"This event was set up to celebrate our Soldiers and allow our families time to spend together that is quality and memorable," said Tonik Joseph, assistant director of Outreach Services in Grafenwoehr.

For Alaina Baker, 5, the dance was an opportunity to pretend like she was her favorite Disney princess, Sleeping Beauty. Dancing with her father, Spc. Anthony Baker of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 172nd Infantry Brigade, was like dancing with Prince Charming. With five younger siblings and both parents in the military, for Alaina, the dance offered rare one-on-one time with her father.

"I most enjoy seeing the love between the fathers and daughters," said Lena Williams of Grafenwoehr's Child, Youth and School Services.

For Williams, the dance is a positive experience and opportunity for fathers to offer a model for their daughters' future relationships. These types of experiences can be difficult when Soldiers are deployed or have little free time for one-on-one interaction.

Free time has indeed been important to Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Brian Young of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment. After two weeks of rest and recuperation leave with his family, which included putting together puzzles, playing board games and skiing in Garmisch, Young took to the dance floor with his daughters, Payton, 6, and Madisyn, 8. Both girls were looking forward to an opportunity to show off some of the dance moves they had been practicing with their dad at home while playing on the Wii.

Another dancing duo took advantage of R&R time by attending the event. Staff Sgt. Richard Calligan and his daughter, Celina, 9, talk every evening while he is downrange using Skype, but the chance to spend time with Celina was irreplaceable.

"She's growing like a weed," Calligan said, smiling, "but she's still my baby."

Page last updated Mon February 27th, 2012 at 07:26