Dad put on mascot costume, suprised son at school after yearlong deployment

A father decided to surprise his 7-year-old son on his first day of school.

“I was nervous, but I was also so happy, I was fighting back tears because I hadn’t seen him in a year. I had missed him so much,” said Sgt. Perry Chronister.

Chronister served in the 107th Calvary Regiment of the Ohio Army National Guard during a year-long deployment to the Middle East.

When he returned home, he made the decision to surprise Eli, his 7-year-old son, on his first day of school at Cuyahoga Falls’ DeWitt Elementary.

“One of the teachers had a great idea. They said, ‘how about you put on the mascot costume and we’ll have you come in and wave at the kids a little bit’ and we did the big reveal,” Chronister said.

Chronister entered his son’s second-grade classroom while costumed as the school’s mascot, the Black Tiger.

Eli jumped into his father’s arms as soon as he introduced himself, and the school staff got some beautiful shots of the touching reunion.

“It was just magical, that was the best feeling, the best moment that I’ve had,” Chronister said.  

Chronister explained to 3News that his overseas location made it difficult for him to routinely communicate with his kid.

“Where I was at, the Wi-Fi was not good. And so some conversations, just some days, we would try and it wouldn’t work out and so there’d go long periods of time where I couldn’t see him, couldn’t talk and it was hard. It was very hard,” Chronister said.

Now that they are back together, the two are going on a weekend family vacation to make up for lost time.

“Its been a long year and I’m just so happy to be back and with my buddy,” Chronister said.

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