It was a night for Princesses Charming, all dressed to the nines, as they stepped onto the dance floor Friday evening at the Westport Weston Family Y, decked out for the occasion in Valentine's hearts and pink and red balloons.

The young ladies' escorts could not have been more proud -- or protective. That's because they were the girls' fathers.

It was the annual Father-Daughter Valentine's Dance at the Y, which attracted two dozen dads and daughters for an event that featured deejay music, punch, heart-shaped cookies and brownies, and Valentine's Day decor festooning the Bedford Room and the adjacent lobby.

"The idea behind the dance is to bring fathers, who are typically not in the building, together with their daughters," said Tasha Dennison, the event coordinator and senior director of child care and school-age programs at the Y. "Last year, I had several dads say, `This was great, let's do it again next year.' "

Paul Walton, with his daughter Faith Rose, was among those who attended the first dance. "We loved it," said Walton. "Faith won the limbo contest and we had free pizza. We were inspired to return again this year. Faith's mom bought her a special dress just for the occasion."

Marcus Forman accompanied two daughters -- Emae and Haley -- to the dance. "I grew up at the Y," he said. "When I heard there was a Y dance, I said we had to go. The girls take ballet here. I was really looking forward to dancing with my daughters."

Mike Lauterborn is a freelance writer.