WALLA WALLA -- It was perhaps the truest test of a man's strength, one that reached beyond muscle, sinew and bone, into the very depths of Brad Ostrander's heart, as he stepped out into the center of the gymnasium floor and tried to hold up for one last time to what will one day leave him and cleave to another.Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.
It would most likely be Ostrander's last chance accomplish this feat, he noted, adding that next year the combined weight of his daughters, Tamra, 7, and Casey, 3, would be to much to bear. So this would be his final attempt to carry both through the entire last dance of the Walla Walla Parks & Recreation Department Father & Daughter Valentine Ball, held Saturday at Garrison Middle School.
But Ostrander forgot to factor in Casey's spunkiness.
"That little one started tickling the older one, otherwise I might have made it," he said afterward.
Three-quarters of the way through Rod Stewart's "Forever Young," the tickling was too much. Ostrander put them down, his arms aching, and finished the rest of the song with a traditional standing dance.
"They (his arms) are a little tired," Ostrander said afterword, then added that he told the oldest she will probably have to stand next year.
But even if he didn't make it all the way through the last dance bearing the weight of both his daughters, he still made it out on the dance floor, along with 138 other fathers or father figures, dancing to classics like Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music."
It was a sea of men who can't dance and the daughters who love them.
"Sometimes as a parent you have to sacrifice what you want for your kids," Jason Flannery said, referring to his dignity. And to prove his point, his 7- and 8-year-old girls dragged him out to dance to Toni Basil's "Mickey."
"I just go out and try to have fun. It's all about them. As long as they are having fun," he said.
Brad Taylor didn't mind the dancing one bit, as long as it was country music, which he and his daughter, Hannah, 10, have nailed down. It was the second year he and Hannah won the father-daughter country dance contest.
"I tell you any dad and daughter that miss this, they are crazy. This is fun. I tell you it's fun," he said, noting that daughters grow up too fast. "That's why I do this stuff, because all this happens and then they are gone."
The event itself has come and gone over the years. Parks & Recreation coordinator Angela Potts said this was either the fourth or fifth consecutive year the city has held the event. And she added that once dads and daughters experience it, they usually come back again.
"Usually if they come one year they keep coming back, that is until the daughter gets to be to old and they don't want to go with dad," Potts said.
Saturday's ball was a first for James Renwick and his daughter, Rosetta, 6.
"It's been a good time. The girls are having a really good time. It's a good time to get the girls out and spend some good father-daughter time," he said, adding that he will come back, even though he feels they need to play more country music.
In addition to dancing, the event also featured numerous games and contests, food donated by Super One Foods and beverages donated by Pepsi of Walla Walla.
But by far the best part of the event were the hundreds of girls all dressed up, including twins Kianna and Sydney Patton, 7, who were dressed in matching black dresses, with painted nails and hair made up special by their mother.
"They have been really excited all week, and I'm always excited to do stuff with them," their father, Brad Patton, said.