By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
Jessica Morris never had a chance to dance with her father, Booker Morris, when she was younger.
But Jessica, 30, talked Booker, 89, both of Boardman, into attending Saturday’s inaugural Daddy Daughter Dance sponsored by Warriors Inc. at the Saxon Club.
“It is so special to incorporate older daughters into the event,” said Jessica.
And Booker, who served in the Army during World War II and the Korean War and Vietnam War, said while they were waiting for the buffet dinner to begin that he looked forward to dancing with his daughter.
“I still know my moves,” he said.
Jeff Jones, 61, of Youngstown, whose dance partner was his adult daughter, Jen Jones, 33, admitted that neither of them have previously danced together and he viewed it as a chance to practice for their weddings in July.
Jen, an administrator at the Warriors Inc. Lisbon location, is getting married on July 21 and her father on July 28.
The purpose of the Daddy Daughter Dance is to provide a special evening for fathers and daughters, said Joe McGeorge of Youngstown, Warriors Inc. executive director.
“We want dads to connect with their daughters. Our purpose is to honor fathers and grandfathers and daughters and granddaughters of all ages and nurture that special bond between them,” said McGeorge, who danced with his daughter, Kelley Frazier, 37, and his granddaughter, Brooklyn Dabney, 12, Kelley’s daughter.
Spending time with his granddaughters, twins Parris and Londyn Stubbs, and Saniyah Stubbs, all of Youngstown, is very important to Tony Stubbs of Warren, a 1986 graduate of Warren Western Reserve High School where he was a defensive back and receiver on its football team.
“He takes us places,” said Saniyah. Among the places are Extreme Air in Niles, Wagon Trails in Vienna, family reunions in Indiana and Kraynaks Christmas Store in Hermitage, Pa.
“I try to get them one weekend a month. I try to spend a lot of time with them,” Stubbs said.
Jerdarius Garrett said he tries to do educational things with his daughter, Ariana Garrett, 6, a student at West Boulevard Elementary School in Boardman.
Looking at her blue gown, Ariana said she loves blue; and looking up at her father said, “I love my dad. He’s nice.”
Zyoniah Crenshaw, 11, of Youngstown, said her father, Joseph Crenshaw, is “funny and plays jokes.”
“I spend time with her and I thought the father-daughter dance, something we have never done, would be an interesting experience,” Crenshaw said.
Xavier Waite came all the way from Queens, New York City, to have a first dance with his daughter, Rayne-Imani Gentles, 8, a student at Valley Christian School.
Rayne likes it when her dad helps her with homework when he is in Youngstown, but also likes him, she said with a laugh, “because he buys me whatever I want.”
“We believe to reconstruct the community, it has to be done from the inside out, and [by] building a bond between fathers and daughters or strengthening the bond that’s been here all along,” said Tammy Hale of Youngstown, family liaison with Warriors Inc., a family- and community-oriented organization.
Hale said preparing the Daddy Daughter Dance program was emotional for her because she had danced many times with her father before he died.
“I wanted to recreate those moments for these dads and daughters,” Hale said.