NEWTOWN, Conn. — 12-year-old Colette Burke of Newtown can't wait until Friday, when she and her dad get to spend an enchanted evening together at the 15th annual Princess Ball.
“It’s a way for me to interact with my father and get away from everything ordinary in my life," Colette said. "Mostly, at home, I just interact with him for homework questions.”
The event is an annual father-daughter formal ball that benefits a number of local charities.
The nonprofit Princess Ball of Fairfield County holds two events every year -- one for girls in grades 1-4 and another for girls in grades 5-8. Both balls for this year, which will be held in March at the Ethan Allen Hotel in Danbury, are already sold out.
“Our organization is a nonprofit and all of our funds [less paying for the food and facility] go directly to five charities in Fairfield County,” said Colette’s mother, Elvia Burke, who is a board member of The Princess Ball of Fairfield County.
This year's beneficiaries are the Caroline Previdi Foundation, Family and Children's Aid, Healing Hearts, The Molly Ann Tango Memorial Foundation, Team Brent and Tiny Miracles.
Over the past 15 years, the ball has donated over $500,000 to local charities, according to Burke.
“This is something to help build the bond between fathers and daughters. In this day and age of iPads and the immediacy of electronics and information, the idea behind the ball goes back to the old ways of sitting down and having special time with your father," Burke said.
A father and daughter don't get too many opportunities to spend time together on a formal basis, she said. And although it's billed as a father/daughter event, girls are welcome to invite another escort.
The several hundred guests will enjoy hors d'oeuvres, a complete dinner and a make-your-own sundae bar. They listen to music from disc jockey “Big Daddy” from James Daniel Entertainment.
The ball is also special, according to Burke, because it teaches the girls about philanthropy and community giving.
"As a family, we feel that it's important to give back to the community and to other people in ways that we've been blessed," she said.
A representative from each charity speaks at the ball, giving all the guests a chance to learn more about the good causes.
And what about hanging out with all your friends at the ball?
“Some of them are from my school and others I see here every year," said Colette, who is in the sixth grade at Reed Intermediate School in Newtown. This year will be Colette's seventh year at the ball.
She said that the DJ lets the guests choose what songs they want to hear.
"'The "Macarena' is one of my favorite songs, and my dad likes 'Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. That is the last song at the ball," she said.
For more information, click here for the website for The Princess Ball of Fairfield County.