FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska -- No dragon, beast, ogre nor troll would have set foot within the realm of Fairbanks, May 22, as nearly 400 princesses and gallant warriors descended on the castle known as Westmark to enjoy an evening of elegance, chivalry, good food and frivolity.

Hosted by the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, the fourth annual Father Daughter Ball was a special, gala event, staged in the Gold Room of the Westmark Hotel. The ball gave some very delighted little ladies an opportunity to dress in elegant satin, silk and chiffon and even don a glittery tiara or mask, in supreme, red-carpet style. Their dates for the evening, the heroes they call Daddy, were quite dapper themselves, in their finest military regalia.

Melanie Terrill, Fairbanks outreach director for ASYMCA, said the occasion was all about fathers and daughters spending precious time together and strengthening their bond. The event was open to all active duty and retired military, reservists and National Guard members.

In the spirit of the theme, "It's a Masquerade," all enjoyed the fun wearing sequined masks, dancing, dipping into the chocolate fondue fountain and posing for portraits. As music played and lights sparkled, it was a storybook opportunity for these warriors and their princesses to celebrate a special connection that can only be shared between a father and daughter.

"This was a wonderful chance to spend time with my beautiful daughter," said 1st Sgt. Jeffrey Peppin, A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Peppin's daughter Alexis said her favorite part was the special dance that talked about the butterfly kisses.

"This year's event was especially important after the homecoming of so many deployed Soldiers from both Fort Wainwright and Eielson (Air Force Base) in the past year," Terrill said, "I found the excitement of the fathers to get up and dance special. The dads were as enthusiastic as the girls with every song the DJ played."

"The most rewarding part of this whole experience was having the opportunity to witness so many fathers and daughters create memories that will last a lifetime," said Kelly Hartman, ASYMCA program coordinator for Fort Wainwright.

"I enjoyed seeing the sheer joy, excitement and appreciation expressed by the fathers and daughters throughout the night," Hartman said.

"The magical night was well-attended and enjoyed by all," Jim Matherly said.
Matherly was master of ceremonies and musical wizard for the evening.

"It was a chance for many Soldiers to reconnect with the ones they cherish and adore, but often have to leave behind when duty calls. It was an experience that seemed to put a smile on everyone's faces," Matherly said.