FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - With Christmas just a few days away, kids all over are cramming in their last minute gift ideas. In Florence, one request was a little out of the ordinary Tuesday night.
At the Florence Magnolia Mall, it was a sight you'd see in any mall across the country, with the goofy photographer, crying kids, and a big man in red smiling though it all.
With each request Santa assured he'd make it happen. That is, until 9-year-old Ronnie McCoon had his chance to ask for his Christmas gift.
"If our dad isn't home on Christmas Eve, do you mind making a stop by Fort Hood in Texas?" McCoon asked Santa.
For the past 21 years, Ronnie's father Ronald McCoon has served in the National Guard. He's done many tours in the Middle East, and recently finished his final deployment.
Since then, he's been stationed in Texas, where his two kids haven't seen him since before he left the last time around.
On Tuesday night, they hoped St. Nick could change that.
"Daddy, Daddy!" screamed Sera and Ronnie McCoon as they saw their father walk around the corner.
Gripping tighter than ever, this family won't be waiting until Christmas for their gift.
"You thought your dad wasn't going to be home, and the next thing you know, you just see him after you tell Santa what you want?" asked nine year-old Ronnie. "That's kind of exciting."
"Knowing I'm home, knowing I can touch them, knowing I can hug them, hold them, tuck them in bed, it's something you miss," said Ronald McCoon, just moments after he surprised his kids.
So with another three days until the big holiday, the McCoon family will be a little busy, remembering their picture perfect Christmas surprise.
"We just asked Santa for you, and here you are!" exclaimed Sera McCoon