McLean County high school students will put on their dancing shoes next week.

The Sadie Hawkins Dance will start around 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22 at the 4H Building at Myer Creek Park. The free event includes a DJ, music, a photographer and food.

Natalie Hardin, a parent of a county high school senior, has been spearheading events for the students to enjoy, despite having some initial reservations.

“In the years past, (the schools) might not have dances,” Hardin said. “I don’t blame the schools because, sometimes, the kids don’t participate.”

However, Hardin was willing to try to see if her efforts would be noticed. In September, Hardin decided to throw an outdoor homecoming dance.

Hardin already had plans to have some type of event, but eventually decided to contact the high school administration to see if having an outdoor party at one of the shelters at Myer Creek Park was possible.

Thanks to support from Judge-executive Curtis Dame and Royal Electric for providing equipment, Betty Logsdon and Robin Rowe from McLean County Farm Bureau for monetary donations, and Prof G Entertainment Services — the dance was a hit, with over 70 students in attendance.

“There was actually a really good response from attendance and everything,” Hardin said. “Somebody said that … it looked like a clip from ‘Footloose.’ Everybody was on the dance floor.”

With the successful turnout, Hardin was keen on throwing another event and decided on a Sadie Hawkins Dance, even though Hardin admits it can be hit-or-miss. Though the dance’s ritual is for a female to ask a male as a date, Hardin said there should be no pressure.

“You don’t have to have a date to attend,” Hardin said. “Just come and hang out.”

Hardin notes that students have seemed more inclined to attend events that are outside, rather than contained.

“I think that’s what McLean County (is about),” Hardin said. “Like the whole hillside at the football games — the whole hillside is filled with tailgating and stuff. Back in the day, there was none of that at football games, but now I think people like to be out and about.”

Hardin brainstorms ideas with other caregivers and community members through a dedicated Facebook group for high school events while continuing to look for ideas for the students in order to have some type of normalcy, considering hindrances due to COVID-19.

“I think it’s good and a fun experience for the kids,” Hardin said. “They haven’t been able to experience a lot of things in the last few years because it’s the third school year that’s messed up now. But, they’re making the most of it this year.”

Though the main theme has been established, Hardin said that the event will conclude with a surprise.

“We will have added elements after the dance to make the event more memorable,” Hardin said. “The kids won’t want to miss it.”

Hardin hopes that next Friday will keep the students in positive spirits and make an impression on them.

“It’s just a fun way of dressing up and getting together,” Hardin said. “I just want to have the kids together to have fun. Everybody always says that there’s no activities in the county. (This) will be just good, clean fun so that the kids can make good high school memories. That’s what it’s about. The kids don’t understand now that the high school memories mean so much, but later on they will.”

Freddie Bourne, fbourne@mcleannews.com

Freddie Bourne, fbourne@mcleannews.com

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