Rain Price will never forget the first day of his sophomore year of high school. On the bus, packed with classmates from his suburban Utah school, Rain peered out the window, mortified.
"The school bus for the first time ever came down our street this year," explains Rain’s dad, Dale, to Utah’s Daily Herald. "This was [my son’s] first year on the bus. My wife came running in the room and suggested we go wave at him to embarrass him.”
And so began Dale’s hazing ritual that continued every day for the rest of his son's school year. The first day may have been the most shocking for Rain, but in the days to follow, the surprises kept coming.
[Related Gallery: See Dale's best costumes]
Since the fall, Dale has waved at his son in 180 different outlandish costumes. The second day of school he wore a football helmet and jersey, and in the months that followed he opened the front door dressed as a blushing bride, a superhero, a Star Trek fan, Michael Jackson, and a giant chicken. One day he even lugged an old toilet bowl onto the street and sat on it reading a newspaper, stopping to wave as the bus rolled by.
Over time, Rain's most humbling moment became his most anticipated. "The first day of high school...it was really embarrassing," Rain tells the Herald "But the last couple of months it has turned into more entertainment."
The father of three, a stay-at-home dad, raided the family’s Halloween costume collection, borrowed outfits from neighbors, and managed to spend under $50 over the year to make his son’s bus ride the highlight of the day. To preserve the memories, his wife, Rochelle, photographed each day's outfit and posted it on their blog called waveatthebus.blogspot.com.
Soon Rain’s friends weren’t the only ones anticipating Dale’s morning ritual. He’s become a local celebrity in their Utah suburb of American Fork and an international phenomenon in the blogosphere.
With expectations high, Dale developed a system. When his son leaves to catch the bus at 7:10 A.M., he is dressed in the bare bones of his costume to keep his outfit a surprise. Then he’s got 4 minutes to transform, with accessories and props, into a renegade paintball player, a Star Wars character or Terry Potter (Harry’s distant relative). Sometimes his son, Riot, a second grader, joins in the fun. On day 26, he played Batman to his dad’s Robin.
On the last day of school, Dale gave Rain a final send-off dressed as a "peg-leg" pirate, an alter-ego he's reinvented throughout the year, as a nod to his own prosthetic leg. It will likely be the end of the routine that made the Price family famous.
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Through it all, Rain, an honors student and a member of his high school marching band, has come to appreciate his dad’s efforts. “He is genetically predisposed to having a good sense of humor,” writes Rain's mom, Rochelle, on their blog. “And yes, he did laugh at the waves. If you look closely at some of the pictures, you’ll see that he and his friends were waving back.”