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Dad and daughters put on dancing shoes

Dads bust a move with their daughters on the dance floor. Photo by Liz Nelson.1 / 6
Kevin and Claire Sweatt show off their moves on the dance floor. Photo by Liz Nelson.2 / 6
Phil and Atlanta Ness share a moment. Photo by Liz Nelson.3 / 6
Dan and Tori Highmark ready to tear up the dance floor.4 / 6
The daughters started a conga line during the dance. Photo by Liz Nelson.5 / 6
Pastor Scott poses by the photo wall with his daughters Linnea and Liz.6 / 6

The City of Two Harbors saved the ball this year and, in the long run, likely helped shape a father-daughter relationship.

Pastor Scott Nelson, one of the people from First Baptist Church who organizes the annual Father Daughter Ball in Two Harbors, said that last weekend one of the fathers approached him and thanked him and the church for putting on the event each year.

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With a daughter busy in high school activities and his job, the father said it’s hard to find time to connect with his daughter.

“He said he feels like his time with her is running out and he was kind of tearing up,” Nelson said.

It’s moments like those that keep organizers coming back each year.

The 2014 version had some hiccups as the two-day event approached March 6.

The ball was nearly cancelled after a water main leak left the venue, Superior Shores, without water. That’s where the city came in.

“I said, ‘I don’t care if we’re eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and renting Porta-Pottys, we are having the ball,’” said organizer Kelli Sweatt with a laugh. She helped start the ball seven years ago and has been the driving force behind it since.

City workers repaired the main just in time for the ball, and 240 attendees were able to enjoy dinner and dancing.

Nelson attended a similar event for a number of years in Duluth and wanted to bring the idea north.

The first ball in 2008 was held at Lakeview Castle, now Clearwater Grille, about 15 miles south of Two Harbors on Scenic Highway 61.

“We had no idea what to expect, but we sold 350 tickets,” Nelson said. It sold out.

Since then, the ball has been at Superior Shores, takes place two nights and remains just as popular.

“It’s sort of like planning a wedding,” Sweatt said of the hours organizers spend getting everything right.

They hold a dress sale before the event, offering second-hand dresses for under $20 along with tiaras and jewelry. On the night of the ball, they serve dinner, hire a DJ for dancing, and offer a photo booth. Members of the First Baptist congregation put together baskets to raffle off. It’s all included in one $20 ticket.

“We want it to be cost-effective for families,” Sweatt said.

The church used to ask for donations from businesses to help cover the costs, but now it is the sole sponsor. Nelson said no money is made on the event and it rarely breaks even. He said it’s worth it to see the fun the daughters have with their dads – and for those moments of thanks like last weekend.

Nelson’s daughters, Linnea, 20, and Liz, 23, have joined him at the balls and Sweatt said she loves seeing her husband breaking it down on the dance floor with their daughters.

“My favorite part is seeing the dads actually dancing with the girls. They don’t put on any airs. They just have fun with their daughters,” she said. “They just are showing their true love.”

All photos by Liz Nelson

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141