Bellefonte YMCA hosts family Valentine’s party

bmilazzo@centredaily.comFebruary 8, 2014 

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Steve Sowers spins Savannah Sowers, 7, and Rosalie Sowers, 10, during the annual Valentine’s Day Family Dance at the Bellefonte YMCA on Saturday.

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— Nate Campbell spun his 3-year-old daughter, Megan Campbell, around the Bellefonte YMCA gymnasium as she giggled with excitement.

Angie Porterfield did a jig with her son, Travis Varner, 6.

And William Keller held his 3-year-old twin granddaughters, Sophia and Morgan Keller, in his arms and swayed to the beat of a soft-rock ballad Saturday afternoon.

When the tune changed to something a little more upbeat, he put the girls down, took their hands and boogied.

“It’s fun being with my baby girls,” said Keller, of Bellefonte. “Today, I left the bride at home and took them as my dates.”

They were just a few of about 100 families who participated in the YMCA of Bellefonte’s annual Valentine’s Day Family Dance as the YMCA gym turned into a dance floor.

The event is in its seventh year, and branch Executive Director Liz Toukonen said that itstarted as a way to bring fathers and their daughters together for a holiday celebration. Last year, the YMCA changed the dance to allow all family members to participate.

“We knew a lot of places that held daddy-daughter dances and wanted to do the same,” Toukonen said. “Then we found out some mothers wanted to bring their sons and so on, and we had to open it to all families, and it became even more popular.”

The event included dancing, snacks and refreshments, kid crafts and a family photo. Each patron also received a carnation.

Open to the public with a small fee, money raised was put toward dance expenses, Toukonen said.

Lilly Walworth, 8, doesn’t get to see her father often, as he travels around the world with his engineering firm on most weekdays. When she has the chance to spend time with him, her favorite thing to do is “snuggle, dance and watch movies,” she said.

“We come here every year,” she said. “We just dance and like to be goofy and have fun.”

Lilly and her father, James Walworth, of Bellefonte, were one of the first to get their photo snapped. Sitting in front of a pink background with hearts, Lilly said she wanted this photo to be a little unique, and she smiled with a white carnation between her teeth.

“It’s nice to do something with your kids that’s fun like this and a little out of the ordinary,” Walworth said. “Valentine’s Day is supposed to be with your significant other, but each year, my wife and I will switch things up. Me and Lil will go out, and my wife will take out our son.”

And for most families, the dance on Saturday was all about bonding time with their children or grandchildren.

“That’s exactly what we aim for and to make sure they’re having as good family-friendly time,” Toukonen said.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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