Although Halloween is just around the corner, one retired Air Force veteran's three kids certainly weren't expecting a scary visit from Bigfoot lurking behind the trees in their backyard.
"I had actually gotten home the night before, but I wanted to wait until my kids got home from school the next day," Blake Thorne, of Augusta, S.C., told GoodMorningAmerica.com.
Thorne, who had been planning his costumed surprise homecoming for about a month, returned Oct. 15 from a four-month deployment to Afghanistan working as a civilian contractor.
Since his kids "have always been fascinated by Bigfoot," Thorne, 32, was inspired to search online for the perfect hairy, beastly ensemble to ensure a shocking arrival.
"They always talk about Bigfoot when we go camping," he explained. "I was looking and found a couple costumes, so I ordered one and had it here by the time I got home."
As his children piled off the school bus, Thorne slipped into the backyard and hid behind some trees beyond their back fence waiting for the perfect opportunity to begin growling loud enough to gain their attention.
"My wife immediately put them in the backyard and told them to play around," said Thorne. "While they were kicking the soccer ball around, I started growling behind the trees. They came over to investigate what it is, and that's when I come out from behind the trees."
Successfully shocked and scared, the kids ran back into the house to try to escape the creature.
"My son kind of caught on when I was climbing over the fence. But he didn't know it was me," Thorne said. "The littlest one who got locked out of the bedroom, she was screaming. She's the one who's attached to me the most, so when I took off the mask she flipped out."
Once the initial fright wore off, the children couldn't be happier to have their dad home.
"That's all they could talk about all week … Their dad being back and how I surprised them as Bigfoot," said a proud Thorne, who plans to wear his costume again on Halloween while taking the kids trick-or-treating.