Light sticks, cupcakes and Rocky the Raccoon — Redding Elementary School’s mascot — were all spotted at Saturday night’s Snowball dance.
The dance, held at John Read Middle School on the evening of Feb. 10, ran for three hours and sold out, with more than 300 people — more than twice as many as last year — attending, according to PTA marketing chairman Sarah O’Dell.
For the first year, the dance — historically open to fathers and daughters only — was open to all Redding Elementary School students and their parents.
The event featured food, drinks, a DJ, a photo booth, a light show, and an assortment of active games.
Children danced to pop songs while waving glow-in-the-dark light sticks, while parents chatted.
The Redding PTA organized, planned and paid for the event.
“This is a fund-raiser for the Redding Elementary School PTA. It raises money for the PTA to fund teacher grants, host author visits, run cultural programs, and hold special events and festivals,” O’Dell said. “It’s also just a nice special event for the kids.”
Tyler Theder, who took his 5-year-old daughter, Nora, to the dance, said, “This is our very first Snowball dance. We just moved to town in July of last year, from Stamford.
“I promised Nora I would be her date tonight.”
Nora wore a pink sequined dress and had a manicure with blue nail polish and heart designs.
Theder said Nora’s younger siblings — Vivian, 7 months, and William, 2 — were at home.
“This night is just for the two of us,” he said. “We both have very busy schedules and don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like to.”
Ryan Sanderson, 6, came to the dance with his mother, Rachel.
“We like to be a part of community activities,” Rachel said.
Ryan, who was wearing a tie with emoji designs, said his favorite song of the evening was Thunder and his favorite food is pizza.
Kate Stark, who brought her son 8-year-old son, Tyler, said her husband attended the Snowball with their daughter, who is now 10 and a student at John Read Middle School, for the past few years.
“They had such a good time that we wanted to see what it was all about,” Stark said.
She added that Tyler really liked the photo booth and bean bag toss game.
The dessert table included gourmet cupcakes, donut holes, and large chocolate chip, almond, and white chocolate cookies.
Seven-year-old Anna Pilato, whose date was her father, Pasquale, wore her hair in two overlapping French braids and was dressed in a pink vintage lace dress and jacket. Her father matched her with a pink shirt and a black velvet jacket.
Anna, who was eating cookies, said she loved the photo booth best.
“My dad took crazy props. He wore a big top hat and big glasses,” she said.
She added that she likes hearing dance songs sung by the singer Sia.
Pilato said events like the Snowball give him the chance to bond with his daughter.
“This is our special time. We get to dress up and go out together,” he said. “This evening is just us on a date.”
While Melissa Bello said she was enjoying the Snowball with her son Roark, who is 3, she also used the word “thankful” to describe the evening.
“Roark was born three months premature. He was only 1 pound, 6 ounces,” Bello said, adding that her son has an eye condition called nystagmus, for which he receives therapy.
She said Roark is “the happiest child. He really likes to dance, especially to [the 1958 song by Ronald & Ruby, called] Lollipop.”
“He dances with his grandma Margaret, who lives in Milford, Pa.,” Bello added.
Iris Hotakov, who was sitting on a bench in the dance room with her son Christian, 8, said she likes that the event was opened up to everyone.
“It is more inclusive this way. Boys now get a chance to participate,” said Hotakov, who is also the mother of Joseph, 11, who is in fifth grade at John Read Middle School.
Aside from mother-son, father-daughter pairs, there was a grandfather-granddaughter duo at the Snowball.
Yoni Sokal of White Plains, N.Y., attended with his granddaughter Yona Stadler-Sokal, who is 7.
“When you are raising kids, you do all the work, but grandparents get to enjoy them,” said Sokal, who is 67.
He added that he spends a lot of time with his granddaughter — watching her in gymnastics, going out to eat and walking in the park.
“She is my first grandchild and my only girl grandchild,” Sokal said. “We always have a good time together, whatever we do.”