Chris Ferry Sr. received a text message at 8 a.m. Wednesday from someone who was not in his contacts wishing him a happy birthday.
Ferry, who turns 62 on March 16, called the guy back and said, “Who are you? Where did you get my number? How did you know it was my birthday?”
The man on the other end of the phone said, “I saw it on a billboard.”
Ferry, of Linwood, the president of Chris Ferry Insurance, has received hundreds of phone calls and texts wishing him happy birthday since Wednesday, thanks to a billboard on the Black Horse Pike in Atlantic City.
A billboard that says, “Wish My Dad Happy Birthday — Love, Your Sons, 1 (561) 307-4879,” greets drivers on the right-hand side of the pike before the intersection with West End Avenue. A picture of Ferry’s face takes up the left side of the billboard.
Ferry knew it was his sons as soon as he heard there was a billboard, but he had to see it for himself.
“I’m totally flattered. I’m enjoying the attention. It’s all cool,” said Ferry, who added he has unlimited talk, data and text on his cellphone plan. “My phone is blowing up.”
Ferry’s oldest son, Christopher Ferry Jr., 30, of Boynton Beach, Florida, came up with the idea.
“Not only is there the billboard, we put it on social media as well, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. He is getting calls from all over the country, South Carolina, Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey. He got a couple of calls he said from Luxembourg, a different country,” said Ferry Jr., who owns and operates the Boca Recovery Center in Florida and is heavily involved in marketing and social media.
Ferry Jr. said his father answered 300 texts and phone calls Wednesday alone. Ferry Jr. and his younger brother, Michael, 28, paid for the billboard to be up through April 6.
A 2007 St. Augustine Prep graduate, Ferry Jr. and his younger brother used to play ice hockey during high school. Their father was the ultimate hockey dad.
“My brother and I were always on the road playing ice hockey,” Ferry Jr. said. “My dad is and was the best dad ever. He sacrificed work events, his social life, everything. He would travel all over the country to take me and my brother to ice hockey tournaments everywhere, (including) Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Canada.”
When on the road, the Ferry brothers, their peers and the other hockey dads would stop at Applebee’s for dinner.
“Either me or my brother would tell the waiter or waitress that it was his birthday when it wasn’t, so they would bring out a birthday cake, and everyone would sing him, “Happy Birthday.” All the hockey dads would break his chops, and all my friends would get a kick out out of it. Every time, we would prank my dad when we were on the road, if we got a chance to.”
Ferry Jr. talked to his younger brother about what kind of prank they could pull to bust his father’s chops this year for his birthday. One day later, Ferry Jr. had a plan.
The phone number on the billboard is a Florida number, so Ferry Sr. could always end the prank by changing his number, but he said he will let the calls and texts keep coming.
“I’m a bigger fan of them (his sons) than they are of me,” Ferry Sr. said.