March 28, 2021 – Slinger, WI – U.S. Army Staff Sergeant David Dickenson, 32, had been deployed 11 months in Kuwait and on a dreary Thursday afternoon the administration at Slinger Elementary School worked together to make his surprise return home a memorable one… especially for his kids.
Isaiah and Arianna are students at Slinger Elementary. Daughter AJ is a student in Horicon.
Slinger Principal Griffin Glapa thought it would be a great idea if Dickenson dressed up as the school mascot Hootie Owl and surprised his kids during recess.
“Oh, they have no idea I’m home,” said Dickenson as he threaded his arms into the wings of the costume.
Daughter AJ, 10, said she had her own surprise welcome home. “My mom took me to a park in Allenton and I was on the swing and turned around because I felt someone staring at me and it was my dad,” she said. “I jumped off the swing, ran to him and hugged him. I’m so relieved he’s home. I missed him so much.”
With the head of Hootie secured, Principal Glapa escorted Dickenson quietly through the hallways to the door to the playground.
Amid the din of playground screeches and laughter Hootie emerged to high fives and hugs from third graders…. and then came the big reveal!