Dad’s 70th Birthday Surprise Party

About a month ago my Mom walked up to me, talking in a hushed voice saying, “I think I want to throw your father a surprise party.”  From then, a plan was hatched and the game was afoot.  From stealing his cell phone in the middle of the night to get phone numbers of all his friends, to arranging a ruse just elaborate enough to evade suspicion, our house turned into a house full of lies.

We settled on having the party at a neighbor’s house and would run across the street in the middle of the night to deliver plates, napkins, silverware, soda, wine and beer.  Mom squirreled away cash so that he would not see the charges on the credit cards.  We even threw a fake birthday party the day before so he would think that his day had already been celebrated.  I had to suppress a fit of laughter when my mom confessed to forgetting he wanted carrot cake when his fake party had an ice cream instead. (All the while the true cake was hanging out, waiting for the party the next day)

On the day of the party we had fake reservations at a Prime Rib restaurant.  The plan was that Dad was to have an Ipad play date with a friend to figure out how to work his new tablet and then we would all go out to dinner.  In reality, the second he left the house we were supposed to bring the food over and get it warmed up and receive the guests.

It was about this point that all the well laid plans began to fall apart.  I arrived with a car full of food and saw that he hadn’t left to see his friend yet.  I wondered if I should call or not?  Did someone drive him over and it was just his car I saw?  If he didn’t leave, would he see the catering truck arrive?  Finally, in the middle of my panic, he drove off.

Like clockwork, the catering truck with the barbecue main course arrived.  We descended on the house, filling it with side dishes.  I straddled two large stockpots, making two giant batches of collard greens.  My blood pressure spiked as people arrived later than they should and during the time Dad would be coming home.  Fortunately, he was late arriving too so the secret was still safe.

It came down to the last turn of the screw, the ruse.  My neighbor needed to call my house with an emergency, which was that she fell down the stairs and needed help.  My mom took the call with my Dad listening and went through a litany of medical questions.  She rushed over and told my Dad that he needed to come to help lift my neighbor into the car.  There would be no prime rib dinner, no blissful evening with the family, only a trip the ER on his birthday.

We waited quietly for his arrival and shouted “Surprise!” as he walked in.  This was the look on his face when he realized that all of his friends and family had been planning on this for weeks and they had all gathered to wish him a happy 70th Birthday.

Dad being greeted by 30 people shouting “Surprise!” at him.

We even caught his reaction on a friend’s iphone:

And that, my friends, is how you pull off a surprise party.

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