Savor the Date: Destin Elementary School hosts Date Night

Jessica Coker
Destin residents Jackson Cox, five, little sister Chloe, three, and mom Sherri picked up a few flowers on their way into the date night.

Dancing the night away, Sean Donaldson and his daughter, 5-year-old Kayla — a tiny pre-K student who was dressed in her favorite pink tutu and standing on her tiptoes just to reach her father — enjoyed a father-daughter date night at Destin Elementary School on Saturday night.

Valentine's Day may be in the past but that didn't keep DES students and parents from enjoying not one, but two date nights over the weekend.

DES held its second annual mother-son and father-daughter date night complete with a DJ, dancing and more. The tradition was started in 2011 by Chintana Boswell, president of the Parent Teacher Organization at DES. After taking a one-year hiatus from the date night planning business after having a baby in early 2012, Boswell and PTO co-president Connie Wilbur have resurrected the special night.

For two consecutive nights, the multi-purpose room at DES was turned into a fairytale-like ballroom. The room was decorated with red streamers and balloons, and pink carnations were given to the students to wear as corsages.

The room was a wallflower free zone — students and parents were on their feet and the dance floor both nights. The DJ played a mix of slow and fast songs and old and new. At one point in the evening, more than 25 students and parents did the popular "Cupid Shuffle."

On Friday night, Fudpucker's provided dinner to the ravenous crowd of children and parents who turned out for the date night. Saturday night's fare was provided by Carrabba's, who brought a number of pasta dishes to please both the picky child’s and discerning adult’s palate. A selection of cookies was supplied by The Fresh Market for dessert.

Destin principal Marti Gardner was beaming with pride as she worked the room on Saturday night, taking the time to speak to all of the children and parents.

"This is just awesome," Gardner said.

Wilbur, Boswell and Gardner agree that this year's date night was a success and it took a lot of people and effort to make everything run smoothly. Gardner told The Log that the Fort Walton Beach High School Leadership Club was on hand both nights volunteering, and without them it would have been next to impossible to pull off.

Between the dancing, playing, snacking and general socializing going on during the date night students were less than eager to put their fun on hold to speak to The Log.

Thankfully, six-year-old kindergartener Layla Starling, who looked like a pint-sized Cinderella in her dress and crown, slowed down long enough to say "I'm having so much fun!"