SAN DIEGO (FOX5) - Three San Diego sisters were expecting to see killer whales Saturday, but they got even a bigger treat: their father. Navy Petty Officer Enrique Rivera, returned from an eight-month deployment, surprising his three kids in front of thousands during SeaWorld's Shamu show.
Rivera's wife of seven years, Bianca, knew about the surprise, but Victoria, 7, Elizabeth, 5, and Gabriella, 2, had no idea. They thought it would be another few weeks until dad came home.
Rivera said he's missed a big chunk of their lives.
"I've missed Victoria's 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th birthday. That breaks my heart. It's hard on me," said Rivera.
He said he hoped the surprise would make up for some of the lost time.
"I just wanted to do something big for my girls. They deserve it after not seeing me for eight months," said Rivera.
A few moments before the show started, SeaWorld honored all the men and women in the military and gave a special shout out to Rivera's wife and three kids who were seated on a middle row.
The announcer then dropped the surprise, "Victoria, Elizabeth, Gabriella, are you ready to see your dad?"
Rivera came running down the stairs and embraced his girls in hugs and kisses.
His girls were initially too shocked to speak. But minutes later, the emotions came and so did the words that made all the effort worthwhile.
"I'm happy my daddy's home," said Victoria.
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