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Manny Lertpatthanakul dances with his daughter Emily, 4, during the Windham recreation department's annual Daddy Daughter Dance Sunday afternoon. Sunday's was Emily's first dance. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO))

Daughters are forever daddy's little girl at Windham father-daughter dance

WINDHAM -- WEARING A SPARKLY, silver evening dress and matching silver high heels, 11-year-old Kayla Joyce beamed as she entered the ballroom, clutching the arm of her dark-suited father, Jim Joyce.

Sunday evening was the seventh time the father and daughter duo would stroll onto the dance floor for one magical night of music, laughter and making memories together during the eighth annual Windham Daddy Daughter Dance.

"We're kind of old pros at this," Joyce said as his daughter's eyes sparkled.

Indeed, Kayla wasn't much older than 4-year-old Emily Lertpatthanakul when she made her dancing debut. Across the hall at Castleton function hall, little Emily giggled with delight on the dance floor, wearing a tiny red tulle dress as her father, Manny, swung her about for the very first time.

It's moments like these that have made the annual event quite popular over the years - popular enough to lead the town's recreation department to begin offering two separate nights of dancing.

Sunday evening's dance, for little girls aged 2 and older and their fathers, was attended by around 300 people, according to recreation director Cheryl Haas.

Another dance will take place at the Castleton this Friday evening, March 15, for girls ages 5 and older and their dads.

Haas said the decision was made to begin holding two dances last year after she noticed dozens of interested fathers and daughters were being placed on a waiting list when tickets for the event quickly sold out.

On Sunday evening, the dance floor was a rainbow of frothy dresses as dads and daughters demonstrated their dance moves to the tunes of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Others wore small wrist corsages as they lined up to get a professional portrait taken as a memento of one special evening they shared.

The town's first Daddy Daughter Dance was quite a bit smaller and was held at Windham Center School in 2005.

"We've pretty much grown each year we've done this," said Haas, who said the dance was eventually moved to Promises to Keep in Derry and more recently to the Castleton, which offers a larger space.

Market Fair and Militia Muster
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The Enchanted Forest
Friday-Saturday, 5 - 9 p.m.

Livingston Taylor
Saturday, 8 p.m.

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