A day at the zoo is usually enough to make any kid happy.
But a 12-year-old girl from the western suburbs got more than she bargained for when she visited Brookfield Zoo Thursday: a surprise reunion with her father who had been serving overseas for nearly a year.
Kristi Flury and her mom April walked into the Seven Seas Exhibit at Brookfield Zoo – it was a mother daughter outing they thought would help distract Kristi from the absence of her dad.
Captain Josh Flury had been on a nine month tour of duty in Kuwait for the U.S. Army Reserves. What Kristi didn't know is her dad had returned home early, and was waiting in the wings at the dolphin show.
"Super excited. It's been a long time coming. I've actually been home for a week so it's been running thru my brain what I'm gonna say, what I'm gonna do,” dad said.
Her mom says Kristi has enjoyed watching those online videos of surprise reunions between military parents and her kids, so she decided to make a little magic of her own.
"One day I'm doing laundry and already kind of in the process. And she goes 'Mom can you videotape when I see Dad for the first time? I just want to watch it over and over.' And in the back of my mind I'm like 'you have no idea kid,” mom said.
So with the help of the Brookfield Zoo, the plan was set.
Kristi and her mom were picked out of the crowd to assist with the dolphin show, and the announcer did the rest.
"Actually we have another really great surprise for you. I think you're going to get to tell your dad a lot sooner about touching this dolphin. So everyone here at Seven Seas, please put your hads together for Kristi's father, Captain Joshua Flury of the U.S. Army Reserves!”
"I had no idea what was going on and then I saw him come out. I was just amazed,” Kristi said. "I had no clue and when I saw him I was just in awe and I ran up to him."
"It felt great. I mean oh my God, she knocked both my shoulder boards off. It was awesome I couldn't have been any happier,” dad said.
"She always missed her dad. She's a daddy's girl. She loves him more than any man on the planet,” mom said.
The family plans to spend plenty of time together before Kristi goes back to school in a couple weeks.
Capt. Josh Flury says after nine months in Kuwait, he'd like to hit a water park.