Christmas trip to Chicago turns into a big surprise for one mom

FOX 32 NEWS - Marylin Harris could be heard shouting with joy as she hugged her daughter Shawnie Harris in the baggage claim at O’Hare airport. It was a major surprise for the Beaufort, South Carolina woman who flew in for the Christmas holiday but never expected to see her daughter, who is currently living in China.

“My sister and I was planning this, so this is my year to travel and I was supposed to go to Australia, but we had said we would surprise mom, so I did it, so I was good to see a good surprise,” Shawnie Harris said.

“I came here for Christmas to see my grandchildren who live here, but I wasn't expecting, I haven't seen her in a year so she's not supposed to, she wasn't coming home for Christmas. She definitely wasn't coming here for Christmas so this was quite a pleasant surprise,” said Marilyn Harris.

It's that kind of joy that makes so many people load up the luggage and pack up the presents to travel both near and far for the holidays.

“It's been very smooth, it was great, everything was great, airport's are not so bad, not crazy at all and look at it, it's kind of dead around here,” said Sharon Ballard, who flew in from Florida to spend the holidays with family in Elmhurst.

“We've been away the Chicagoland area for a little bit so we haven't seen anybody, and there's a new baby in the family too so looking forward to seeing her too,” said Chet Ballard.

On what is the busiest travel day of the Christmas weekend, many passengers were bringing along their dogs. Others were traveling with their favorite holiday hat. But just about all were loaded down with luggage or packed with presents.

However, the dedicated traveler award this day had to go to a nursing student in Milwaukee who was loaded down with gifts for her family in Uganda, who she hasn't seen in three years.

“I'm going to arrive on Christmas Eve, because it's a 24 hour flight,” said Florence Mukyala, as she stood next to a cart full of bags, as well as a TV in a box.

Just how excited was she to get back home? “God, I think I'm going to cry, that's what I think,” she said with a smile.

By early evening, the big rush had ended, but with an estimated 210,000 people expected to pass through O’Hare airport this holiday weekend, it will get busier again. Travelers just hope the weather cooperates the rest of the weekend.