Weeks before the first game of the Bills’ 2021-2022 season, I got a text from my dad that said, “You should go to the Bills’ season opener.” And I thought about it — truly, I did, but when I saw that the Bills were slated to play the Steelers on Sept. 12th, the thought became short lived.

You may have been out tailgating or repping Bills Mafia and watching the game from the comfort of your buddy’s couch, but I was getting on a plane and heading to the Windy City.

This might not make a whole lot of sense. Why would a Buffalonian fly to Chicago for the Bills season opener?

Don’t get me wrong — it was a tough choice I had to make. I was either going to a Bills game or I was flying to Chicago as part of an elaborate surprise party that I schemed secretly with my younger brother. But when your dad happens to be turning 60 on the same day, you choose the latter. Plus, my brother and I don’t get to do a whole lot of scheming together as adults, and we are quite the dynamic duo when it comes to surprises. 

I got to the Buffalo-Niagara airport and the adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I was on a mission. My dad had no idea I was coming home for the weekend for his birthday, and in fact he reminded me that his birthday was on the 12th (as if his favorite daughter would forget).

It was all very carefully planned. I took a picture in a coffee shop and made it look like I was in a Spot Coffee. My dad was none the wiser, thinking I would be in Buffalo the whole weekend (he even asked me if I would stop by Orchard Park to peak at the tailgates). My uncle was my arranged ride at the airport, and he drove me to the junk car I left parked at my mom’s house in Indiana so I could drive to my dad’s and hide out.

My brother had been distracting my dad that evening, and it was perfectly executed because I was able to park across the street at a neighbor’s house and slip into my dad’s home with my brother’s spare key with just 8 minutes before my dad and brother returned home.

The way my dad yelled, “WHAT THE HECK!” is confirmation that he was more than surprised.

My brother made him a cake and I managed to get a card signed by all of his coworkers, and while that may not seem like a big 60th birthday bash like you would have thrown for your best friend or your parent(s), it’s the exact kind of birthday surprise my dad would want. 

You can see the surprise unfold in the video below. 

Happy Birthday, Dad! I’ll choose football and the Bills next time, I promise. 

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