Dance looks to turn hate into something special

A year after organizing a dance that was open to everyone, Ashley Spells-Hayes says the second annual Little Sweethearts Dance is planned for this weekend.

Spells-Hayes formed the first dance last year as an all-inclusive alternative to the city of Yukon’s Daddy-Daughter dance. That dance was only open to fathers and daughters.

That policy was changed this year by city officials, said spokesperson Jenna Roberson.

“The policy was for fathers or father figures and their daughters. We changed it this after reviewing the policy and deciding it was not appropriate,” Roberson said. “The policy now is that anyone can attend, but it is certainly aimed at fathers and daughters.”

This year’s father-daughter dance was Jan. 27.

Spells-Hayes said that despite the policy change, there were still calls for the Little Sweetheart Dance to become an annual event.

This year’s festivities will be from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at 10 West Main and is open to everyone.

It also is free to attend.

Spells-Hayes said the original purpose of the dance was an opportunity for everyone to celebrate their children.

Spells-Hayes said that she and her daughter were turned away several years ago from the Daddy-Daughter Dance because it was exclusively for dads and their daughters.

The problem was that her daughter’s dad was in the military and was out of state.

Having been stationed in Texas and California before moving to this area, Spells-Hayes said she had been allowed to participate so her children could be involved.

She said she was turned away at the door.

From that point, Spells-Hayes said that she and her daughter, along with some friends still got dressed up, but went for a meal instead.

Then last year, a woman whose husband had recently died attempted to attend the dance and also was turned away.

Spells-Hayes said she took that opportunity to find a location to host the Little Sweetheart Dance.

She said there are many children who don’t get to participate in the dances for various reasons.

Among those attending last year were several children who were in foster care.

There also were several families from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community in attendance.

“This started as a dance for those who couldn’t go to the Daddy-Daughter Dance,” she said.

“This is a free event, no matter what the family dynamic is,” Spells-Hayes said.

This year’s dance will include visits from Miss Yukon and Miss Oklahoma. Music and lighting will be provided by DJ Saad, and refreshments will be served.

Spells-Hayes said she still encourages participation in the Daddy-Daughter dance.

“It is a beautiful tradition,” she said.

Last year’s event drew about 200 people, including some from as far away as Dallas and Kansas City.

“This has turned into something awesome,” she said. “People like the idea that the whole family could come.”

While the event is free, donations are gladly accepted. In addition, Spells-Hayes has established a gofundme account at gf.me/u/gh2jjr

“The hate has turned into something good. I never thought it was going to be this big,” she said.

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