A father and daughter pair that started attending the Highlands Ranch Community Association Father-Daughter Sweetheart Ball in 2003 danced at the event for the 18th time Feb. 8.
Charlie Smith, 58, and his daughter Renee, 20, first heard about the ball from an article in the Highlands Ranch Herald, Charlie said.
“I thought that's cool, that would be so much fun,” he said.
Renee was only about 3 years old the first time they attended.
“I think it's just the cutest thing,” Charlie said about the first photo they have. “She's just so small.”
They haven't missed the event ever since, even when Renee moved to Washington to start college at Seattle Pacific University last year.
“It really provides a special opportunity that we know we're going to get together and have time to talk and catch up,” Renee said. “We don't have that kind of opportunity often.”
They first started attending the event, which is held at the Highlands Ranch Mansion, before the facility was renovated.
“It used to have all dirt roads … It was tattered when we first started,” Charlie said. “Everything about the dance just seems to improve every year.”
The venue isn't the only thing that has changed over the years. Photos from nearly every year show how the pair have grown as well.
“You can see all the changes,” Charlie said. “Renee every year looks older and more mature.”
While many of the daughter attendees are much younger than Renee, they like to keep up the tradition.
“It's almost like a very special occasion like a holiday,” Renee said. “It's something to look forward to every year.”
Even though the family moved to Monument a few years after they started going, they continue to make the drive to the Highlands Ranch event to maintain the same tradition.
One of their favorite parts of the event is the annual horse-drawn carriage ride around the mansion, Renee said.
“I'm creating a memory for her to have forever and that's my main focus,” Charlie said.
Renee also focuses on what the memories can do for her dad down the line.
“We have something that's special to us and something he can remember in the future,” she said. “When I'm not able to do that kind of thing.”
For now, it looks like they may be able to keep attending, at least until Renee graduates from college in a few years and heads to law school.
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