Six-year-old Jacob Bailey, a first-grader at LES, and Barbara Taylor were all smiles as they paired up for dance lessons during the event. Jacob attended the event with his grandmother, Vanessa Echols, who was glad to have Taylor act as surrogate during dance activities for the evening.

Lakeland children pair up with grandparents for special event

Surrogate grandparents and participants of Lakeland Senior Center, Lisa Cook and Harold Ricketts, were in sync with Chloe Rose, 8, and Shelvie Rose, 7, as they danced the Do-Si-Do. Photos by Kim Odom.

Ear-to-ear smiles adorned the faces of senior citizens and children at the annual Grandparents Night celebrated on March 1 at Lakeland Elementary School.

It was hard to say who had the most fun during the PTA-hosted event. On a rotating schedule in order of last name, each set of grandparents and grandchildren enjoyed activities on tap for the evening, including a variety of crafts, treats, dance lessons and a photo booth.

Six-year-old Jacob Bailey, a first-grader at LES, and Barbara Taylor were all smiles as they paired up for dance lessons during the event. Jacob attended the event with his grandmother, Vanessa Echols, who was glad to have Taylor act as surrogate during dance activities for the evening.

Active participants of the Lakeland Senior Center joined the excitement, serving as surrogate grandparents for those students who didn’t have grandparents attending the event. Marilyn Piccatto, there on behalf of the Lakeland Senior Center, said she was thrilled to be a stand-in grandparent for the occasion.

Piccatto, who doesn’t have grandchildren of her own, was paired up with eight-year-old Anna Shaffer. The two were matched up at the check-in table, and then they set off to enjoy a few more activities hosted in the foyer of the school. Afterward, they took dance lessons in the gym, indulged in making crafts in the cafeteria and captured their smiles in a photo booth.

Marilyn Piccatto, at left, and Anna Shaffer, 8, were paired up for the annual Grandparents Night event at Lakeland Elementary School on March 1.

Anna said she enjoyed learning about Ms. Piccatto and making a new friend. She was surprised how much they had in common, and said she was a lot of fun.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” she added.

Piccatto said, “Anna was such a delight. It was so much fun. I got to experience what being a grandparent is like and loved every moment of it.”

KIM ODOM is special events coordinator for the City of Lakeland.

Connie Williams, at left, helped four-year-old Will Kiesel design a picture frame at the crafting table during Grandparents Night at Lakeland Elementary School.