Taylor Swift Dads grin and bear it

They chaperone — and find they become fans

Chris Stratton of Northbridge with daughter Caroline and niece Leah Cohen.
Chris Stratton of Northbridge with daughter Caroline and niece Leah Cohen.

A couple of years back, if someone had told Shawn Sears — a former rock band drummer — that he’d be a registered member of the Taylor Swift fan club, he wouldn’t have believed it.

That was before Sears’s tween-aged daughter fell in love with the pop queen of breakups. Before Sears learned that the best way to score tickets to Swift’s Red Tour — which has touched down at Gillette Stadium for sold-out shows Friday and Saturday — was to get on Swift’s mailing list. And before Sears himself, a 40-year-old Web developer from Lynn, started turning up the radio when his favorite Swift song played. “It’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble,’ ” he said, without shame.

And so when some 100,000 people fill Gillette for the concerts, most of them young girls dazzled by Swift’s intoxicating mix of glamour, wholesomeness, and musicality, Sears will be there, too. Think of him as a Taylor Swift Dad.


Wearing khakis and slightly uncomfortable expressions, and less enamored with America’s sweetheart than with their girls, the dads are concert Sherpas. They’re the ones carefully carrying the homemade “I heart Taylor” signs so they don’t get crushed, and waiting in line to buy their daughters T-shirts emblazoned with Swift’s signature blond hair and bright red lips.

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Both hero and potential source of shame, they are never ever ever ever — to borrow from Swift’s famous lyrics — allowed to dance or sing.

“If my dad got dressed up, that would be kind of embarrassing,” said Sage Sears, 12, who is planning to wear a Swift-inspired red tie-dye shirt, jean shorts, and a red bandana to the concert, which she is attending with her father and a pal on Saturday.

Shawn Sears and his daughter, Sage, shown at their Lynn home, will be among the father-daughter duos on Saturday.

The CEO of Ace Ticket, where last-minute seats were listed for more than $800, estimates there will about 7,500 dads in the crowd each night, a number that will include him.

“I haven’t chosen my outfit yet,” jokes Jim Holzman, who will accompany his two girls, ages 8 and 9. “I have to talk to the other dads and see what they’re wearing.”


The 23-year-old Swift, who recently purchased a $17.75 million home in Watch Hill, R.I., is a seven-time Grammy winner and the owner of six Academy of Country Music Awards. Her most recent album, “Red,” sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week last October — the biggest numbers for any album since 2002, according to Billboard.

Some dads secretly — or not-so-secretly — like Swift’s breakup-centric music, but Holzman says he wouldn’t listen to it if it weren’t for his girls.

“I don’t mind her lyrics,” he says, “although hearing them over and over can be a little annoying.”

But as many dads noted, it could be worse. They could be facing a Justin Bieber concert. (He played TD Garden last weekend, so that threat has passed for now.)

Still, even though Holzman has sort of learned to enjoy Swift’s music, that doesn’t mean seeing her in concert would have been his first choice for weekend entertainment.


“Hopefully they will be selling alcohol,” he said. Note to dads: A stadium spokesman confirmed that drinks will indeed be for sale.

This weekend’s shows mark Swift’s third year at Gillette, and the third Swift concert attended by James and Holly Ayles, a father and daughter who will be driving from their home in New Brunswick, Canada. In 2011 they wore matching pink shirts made by Holly, now 16.

“I ran into a friend of mine,” said James, a government economist, cringing at the memory of being spotted while wearing the glittery shirt and carrying a cosmetics bag filled with CoverGirl giveaways for his daughter.

“My God,” he recalled, in horror. “But you just grin and bear it.”

At least Ayles’s daughter was excited to share the experience with him. Some young concertgoers see their dads simply as chauffeurs.

Consider what happened to Robert Pepe, a Sharon dad who coughed up $350 per seat so he and his two daughters could see Swift’s 2010 Fearless tour. At Gillette, they ran into a friend of one of his daughters — who was sitting in cheaper seats — and the friend promptly made a suggestion to Pepe, the director of operations for Bernie & Phyl’s Furniture.

“Can I sit with Shayna and you sit with my dad?” she asked, raising the specter of two middle-aged men sitting alone together at a Taylor Swift concert, with no children as an excuse for being there. “That’s creepy,” Pepe answered.

Besides, he added, “I paid $1,000. I wanted to sit with my daughters.”

With the concerts looming, dads who are semi-dreading the event — even as they look forward to bonding with their daughters — might want to keep three observations in mind, one from a Boston College psychology professor, one from a humorist, and the other from Kiss 108’s Matt Siegel.

“As kids reach adolescence, they often see their parents in a less attractive light, as less cool,” said Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor of applied developmental and educational psychology. “This is an opportunity for girls to see their dads as hip.”

Or for dads to show their daughters who’s really the boss, joked W. Bruce Cameron, author of “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” “It’s a great opportunity to embarrass your daughter in public. It lets her know you have a weapon you can use at any time.”

But Siegel, the host of the “Matty in the Morning Show,” and father of four daughters ages 18 to 25, turned nostalgic at the thought of days gone by with his girls.

“Taking kids to teenybopper events can be miserable,” he said. But there’s something even more painful: When they’re no longer around to be taken.

“I never want to go to the circus again,” he said, “but at the same time, I kind of miss it.”

Beth Teitell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.