Valentine’s Day Dance Party supports special needs groups

The third annual Valentine’s Day Dance Party returns to Trumbull High School Friday.
The third annual Valentine’s Day Dance Party returns to Trumbull High School Friday.

Love is in the air, and that means it’s time to bust a move and break down at the Valentine’s Day Dance Party sponsored by the Trumbull MORE Group.

Former Trumbull police officer and active local volunteer Mark Smith is helping put on the third annual event, which is open to all people with special needs in the Greater Bridgeport area, and goes from 7 to 10 p.m. at Trumbull High School Friday, Feb. 12.

“It’s a totally inclusive night — we don’t want to exclude anybody,” said Smith, who works security at Jane Ryan Elementary School during his retirement days.

“It’s a fun night and it’s a night that never fails to inspire people,” he added. “Everyone has a great time and dances all night long — Trumbull police and Trumbull EMS make sure to get out there and dance with everyone, it’s a wonderful community event.”

In addition to getting the support of the Trumbull MORE Group, the dance party is supported by the Trumbull Center Lions Club, Trumbull Rotary Club and the Stratford-Trumbull Civitan Club, as well as St. Theresa’s Knights of Columbus and Sons of St. Joseph.

With many other organizations and businesses donating items and lending a helping hand this year, including the Kennedy Center as a first-year partner, Smith is hopeful the event can attract more than 300 people.

“This isn’t just a Trumbull event,” said Smith, who retired two years ago from the Trumbull Police Department.

“We want people from all over the area — Monroe, Stratford, Shelton,” he added. “We always wanted to put this thing together and have it grow.”

Smith, the event chairperson, said that $2,500 was raised in the first year with another $1,800 being collected in year two, despite having to fight off Mother Nature.

The money goes a long way to helping the retired officer reach his goal.

“We want this to be a permanent thing,” he told The Times. “I try to have $1,000 left in the fund to roll over to the next year.”

After decades of planning parties for police, Smith said, he has carried over his passion for organizing large gatherings.

He came up with the idea to have a dance for special needs groups after reading a magazine article about a dance in California that had a similar mission.

That was about five years ago.

Since then, he’s been working to build up Trumbull’s own Valentine’s Day Dance Party, which now includes free music provided by The Star Factory as well as food that is donated by Vazzy’s.

Another annual tradition of the dance is the photo booth, which is presented by Roger Salls Photography.

“Everyone loves the group photos and having their photos taken,” Smith said.

In addition, he hopes to have mascots from the Bridgeport Bluefish and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in attendance.

Residents who know anyone with special needs who might want to attend are asked to RSVP to Mark Smith at 203-452-7385 or Rose Derrig of the Trumbull MORE group at 203-268-2323. Volunteers or anyone who would like to contribute to the event may also contact Smith.