Lockport celebrates Taylor Swift era on eve of Super Bowl

Maeve Olson, 8-years old, reacts to seeing “Taylor Swift” at the Taylor Swift fan party hosted by the Lockport Township Park District on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024 in Lockport.

Lockport — As thousands of Taylor Swift fans prepared to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl for the sole purposes of spotting their hero as she cheers on her boyfriend Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs, and the pop superstar herself was jetting between Tokyo and Las Vegas, young Swifties in Lockport spent the afternoon “dancing like they’re made of starlight.”

The Lockort Township Park District hosted the Nifty Swifty Night as a chance for fans of the Grammy Award-winning artist to sing and dance along to the smash hit Eras Tour movie while making friendship bracelets, posing for photos and enjoying snacks.

“The turnout has been absolutely fantastic, especially for an event we’ve never done before,” park district recreation supervisor Rachael Click said. “We’re never sure the first time we host something, but it’s been great.”

Click said more than 100 guests ranging in age from 4 to 76 were registered to attend the event, including a few seniors planning to attend with their Swifty granddaughters.

Although the planned activities for the afternoon were focused on the kids, the majority of whom ranged in age from 6 to 12, the kids were hardly the only fans in the room. Many of the parents attending the event were Swifties in their 30s who started listening to Swift’s early albums as teens themselves and passed on their love for the star’s music.

“I saw Taylor in concert when she was just starting out opening for Rascal Flatts,” said Jenny Tomczak, who was attending the event with her 8-year-old daughter. “The girls don’t get into all my music, but they love Taylor Swift. Anytime my daughter can sing along, she’s there.”

“We’ve been to other park district events, and this one is much bigger,” said Rory Olson, who was attending with Tomczak and her own daughter. “It’s a lot of fun, and it makes you realize just how many of the songs the kids know the words to.”

Tomczak and Olson both said they planned to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl for the purpose of Swift-spotting, although the game held less interest to some of the young fans than the music.

“I’ve watched some of it, more than usual, but I don’t really get it,” 13-year-old Violet Carrick said of watching football.

For her, fandom is about the music, which she was introduced to by her mother.

“My mom used to play the ‘1989′ album in the car all the time when I was, like, 5,” Violet said. “Then, I got more into it as I got older.”

This summer, the teen was able to see her favorite artist perform live when her dad took her to see the Eras Tour at Soldier Field.

“It was amazing,” said Violet, whose arms were adorned with friendship bracelets she got at the concert and the subsequent premiere of the concert movie. “We didn’t know if we were going to get tickets. I thought we were going to have to tailgate it.”

“We got the tickets the day of the concert,” said Violet’s dad, Brendan Carrick. “I spent way more money than I expected to, but when we got there, there were sounds coming out of her I’d never heard before. She was so excited, so it was all totally worth it.”

Carrick said that despite not being a huge fan himself, he knew most the songs at the concert because of his daughter’s vinyl album collection, something the two have bonded over.

“She’s getting to be a teenager now, but this is still something special we can share together,” he said.

In addition to the singing and dancing, kids at the event got to pose for photo ops, including with props representing each of the Swift albums featured in the Eras Tour and a teenage Swift impersonator.

“Taylor” helped the organizers reenact a staple part of the concert experience in which Swift gives her top hat to a lucky fan at each show. During the “Red” portion of the movie, she drew names to raffle off hats to three lucky fans.

“She’s a huge fan,” Katie Jones, one of the hat winners, said of her daughter. “I just listen to the music, but this is a lot of fun, and it’s great for the kids.”

“I’m so excited,” said 10-year-old winner Jaliah Lombardo. “I’m a big fan. ‘Red’ is my favorite album. I got a copy on CD for Christmas to play in my radio. The party is so fun! I love getting to take all the pictures.”

Click said the inspiration for the party was to “bring the concert to life for kids,” and the event certainly succeeded.

“I can’t thank the community enough for their support,” Click said. “It’s been truly remarkable making memories today.”