SAN ANTONIO -- Ten-year-old McKenley thought she won a contest to introduce the ringmaster at Thursday's Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
She stood side-by-side with her mother at center stage since her father was still in Afghanistan for his third deployment. He wasn't expected back until July 9.
Or at least that's what she thought.
McKenley nailed the introduction for the ringmaster at the start of the show. But what she didn’t know was that the ringmaster was about to introduce her father.
As McKenley saw her dad come out, she ran straight to him and greeted him with a big hug and some tears. Backstage, she was almost speechless.
“I literally was like, wow. What is happening?” McKenley said.
“She was surprised,” her father said. “We had a couple of close calls but pulled it off.”
Now that the surprise was over, it’s time to catch up on time lost.
“I just want to be with him,” McKenley said.