The first hint Chris Ferry got about his birthday present was a text from a total stranger.
As Fox News reports, the dad from Linwood, New Jersey, isn’t celebrating his birthday until March 16. But the good wishes are already rolling in, thanks to his sons’ birthday prank.
Chris’ two sons live in Florida and wanted to do something for their dad’s 62nd birthday that paid homage to an old family joke.
“They would always tell the waiter, waitress it’s my birthday, even though it wasn’t,” Chris told CBS New York.
The sons’ plan? Rent a billboard outside Atlantic City and put their dad’s face on it along with his phone number and the message, “Wish My Dad Happy Birthday.” In smaller text, they added, “Love, Your Sons.”
Chris told KYW that he learned about the prank when he got a birthday text from a stranger named “Nick.” When he texted back asking Nick (who confirmed they didn’t know each other) how he got that number and knew it was his birthday, Nick replied, “I saw it on a billboard.”
Even with a family tradition of birthday jokes, this one stood out. Chris told Fox 29:
“It was a neat idea. I wish I would’ve thought of it.”
Then the calls started rolling in. At first, Chris tried to respond to each birthday message, but the sheer numbers have become overwhelming. He has already received more than 15,000 calls and messages.
The calls have come from all over the country — some are even international. Chris told KYW that several of them have been very personal:
“They get me on the phone, they want to talk to me, they want to tell me about their most memorable birthday. People say, ‘I lost my dad last year.’ I had one guy tell me, ‘I tried to call my father to tell him about the billboard and he didn’t pick up, so I figured I would call you to talk to you and now you’re not picking up.'”
Chris had to change his outgoing voicemail message and says he hasn’t been able to use his phone normally. He joked to CBS New York that he wants to kill his sons and then quickly added, “But I’m going with it, having a good time.”
His son, Christopher Jr., told KYW that they wanted to give their dad “a birthday to remember.” He added:
“He’s not [mad], he’s laughing. He’s trying to answer as many texts as he can, he’s answering phone calls. He’s actually really getting a kick out of it.”
His other son, Michael, agrees that his dad is enjoying the prank. He told CBS New York:
“I just wanted to say I love my dad, I love my family, and I’m really glad he’s getting attention because he’s a great guy. He always puts others first, especially me and my brother.”