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Dads, daughters dazzle at annual dance

Dad Joshua Houska spins daughter Briannah, 8, as the two take to the dance floor at the REACH “Ties and Tiaras” Father Daughter Ball on Saturday at Cloquet High School. Photos by Jana Peterson/jpeterson@pinejournal.com1 / 3
You can’t have a ball without princesses! These teen princesses volunteer in many ways during the annual event, helping with photos, serving as buffet ushers and even dancing with some of the younger girls at the REACH Father Daughter Ball. Pictured, from left: Neena Magnuson, Ashley Chard, Raven Sevilleja, Brianna Demers, Kaylee Anderson and Ella Magnuson. 2 / 3
Four-year-old Kaleelah Chosa is so excited about the Father Daughter Ball that she makes a run for it, and dad Blaize Wold is right behind her in his matching vest and tie. 3 / 3

The buffet tables had barely been cleared away before Joshua Houska and his daughter, Briannah, 8, took to the dance floor at Friday's REACH Father-Daughter Ball.

The pair looked like they were practicing for "Dancing with the Stars." Not only did they spin, twirl and dip like professionals, they were also dressed in matching clothes — he in a salmon-colored shirt with white trousers, hat and suspenders; she in a matching dress with a white cardigan.

Joshua insisted their dancing skills were not event-specific.

"We dance all the time," he said. "I like to have fun with her."

Harper Ostby, 2, knew it was dancing time. Wearing a glittery gold creation, she happily ran across the gym floor in tiny shoes and then back to her father, Matt Ostby, to hold his hands and dance some more. Too young to talk much, Harper is already a three-year veteran of the Cloquet dance.

"She knows (it's time to dance)," said Matt, as the toddler starting spinning around again.

Dakota Koski, REACH executive director, said the annual event is the most popular fundraising event for the non-profit mentoring program serving Carlton County. Friday marked the 11th year for the dance, which also serves to bring dads and daughters together for a special evening. Estimating the crowd at about 300, Koski said attendance was down this year from an average in recent years of nearly 400.

"They had father-daughter dances in Carlton and Wrenshall last weekend and in Proctor tonight, so maybe it was just that we had more competition," Koski said of the event, which has become a tradition for many communities over the past decade.

He added that it's wonderful to have an event that makes such special memories for families.

"It's nice to be able to have something that fathers and daughters can go to together that's just exclusive for them — no one else," he said.

Blaize Wold and his daughter, Kaleelah Chosa, 4, were thrilled to find the Cloquet dance on the internet.

"I had the idea to go, but we missed the Duluth dance," he said. "So I found this and made it happen."