Three-year-old Bridget Carr slowly peeled away the wrapping paper. Underneath the red ladybugs and blue butterflies was a box for a Kenmore appliance.
Bridget wasn’t deterred. It was her third birthday party and a giant present was on the front porch. She peeled back the flaps on the box and let out a squeal of delight as her father, Joshua Carr, popped up.
It’s a scene captured in a Facebook video that went viral over President’s Day weekend, with more than 322,327 shares as of this writing. It was originally posted in September, shortly after Bridget’s dad returned.
Carr had just come back from Afghanistan, his second deployment in Bridget's lifetime. He knew he was getting back on her birthday and wanted to surprise her.
“I don't know exactly what gave me the idea at first. I think it stemmed from knowing I was returning home directly to my daughter's birthday party. From that point, the birthday present concept followed logically enough. It was met with skepticism from my family members at first (worried she would be scared when I popped out), but I insisted and luckily for us everything turned out great. Her reaction was certainly priceless and more than I expected,” Carr wrote through an interview on Facebook.
The video is about 2 and half minutes long, and Carr doesn’t appear until about midway. But he wasn’t holding his breath the whole time.
“While it seems like hours, really only a minute and a half pass before I pop out and I'd only been in the box for a minute or two before that. My mother wrapped the box and cut the bottom out, so when I arrived at my parents house (where my daughter lived while I was deployed), my mom placed the box over me as I crouched down. The hardest part was holding the sides to keep the box from moving. I didn't want to shake the box too early and scare my daughter, Bridget,” Carr wrote.
Carr said the uptick in views around President’s Day weekend was surprising and “somewhat mysterious,” considering it was posted for family that was out of the area on Bridget’s birthday.
Carr declined to name his rank and how long he was deployed because of mixed reactions to the video.
His daughter Bridget however - whose opinion is arguably the only one that matters - was thrilled.
“She still talks about it from time to time. 'Remember when you were in a box and you surprised me?’” Carr wrote.