The Atlantic City billboard that asked drivers to wish a man happy birthday netted Chris Ferry, of Linwood, 250,000 calls and texts from around the world, according to a new sign in its place.
Ferry had to change his number.
“I probably missed a lot because I couldn’t answer the phone anymore,” he said Monday. “It was literally ‘da-ding, da-ding, da-ding, da-ding,’ and then I had to get a new phone.”
Ferry’s sons rented the billboard space along Route 40 for his 62nd birthday March 16. Ferry himself rented the Thank You billboard to express his gratitude for the outpouring of positivity he received, he said. It’s been up since Friday.
Chris Ferry Sr. received a text message at 8 a.m. Wednesday from someone who was not in his …
He got calls from around the world, including Iraq, Iran, Singapore, China, Ukraine, Somalia, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Luxembourg, “all the Caribbean nations” and a little island in the Indian Ocean.
Texts trumped calls about 3 or 4 to 1, he said, and only a few messages were “salty or off-color.”
One said they were calling in memory of their late father. Some invited him to their homes in Georgia for sweet tea or cornbread.
The original story, first reported by The Press, was picked up by The Associated Press and seen in news markets around the globe.
He spoke with national media and overseas press, and acquaintances from around the country clipped his story from their local newspapers, he said.
“I even did an overnight (call) with Manchester, England,” he said.
Ferry, president of Chris Ferry Insurance, said he knew it was his sons as soon as he heard there was a billboard, but he didn’t expect the glut of attention that followed. A P.F. Chang’s waitress overheard his family discussing the news attention soon after it went up and said she saw the billboard on her way into work. The two took a selfie.
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He’s working with one son to make a Facebook page for people to share positive stories.
“Everything was really positive,” Ferry said. “The point is: There’s way more good in the world than there is bad. It just doesn’t get reported.”
On an interview Monday evening, Ferry ended the call with a joke: “This is my cell, don’t give it to anybody.”