Dean Yockey thought their decision was made — they weren’t going to the Rose Bowl.
Dean and his wife, Becky Yockey, “hemmed and hawed” when it was announced that Penn State would play USC in “The Grandaddy of Them All.” They decided against going after thinking about their four daughters.
Aside from two trips to Niagara Falls together, their daughter Jennifer said, the two haven’t taken a big trip alone in 30 years of marriage.
“Mainly my wife and I talked about it, because she always wanted to go to the Rose Parade and I always wanted to go to the Rose Bowl,” he said. “We thought it’d be a good thing to do. Then we thought we’d save the money, because you never know what you can save it for. What if the girls get married?”
But Becky Yockey had other plans — she bought the tickets and set up one of the biggest surprises of Dean Yockey’s life with help from the kids, who came up with the idea to put roses in a bowl with the ticket package. They gave him the present Thursday night after family dinner.
“My wife baffled me, because she said the early Christmas present was from her boss,” Dean Yockey said. “I just didn’t think it was anything for me.”
What followed has gone viral. Dean Yockey opens the package, looks in disbelief at the tickets, sheds tears of joy and his wife hugs him. Then the video ends.
“There was a lot more crying after that, and my mom kept saying ‘Are you mad? Don’t be mad,’ ” Jennifer said. “But he’s super excited.”
The surprises weren’t over.
Everyone, it seems, wanted to know more about him, including Penn State football coach James Franklin. The coach tracked down Becky Yockey, who works at Penn State’s College of Medicine, to call Dean Yockey on Friday night to thank him for his support.
“It’s never been about themselves,” Jennifer Yockey said. “They’ve always been all been about us four girls. This is finally something special for them.”
Dean Yockey, a lifelong Penn State fan despite his Pittsburgh roots and the fact that his dad was a huge Pitt fan, can’t wait to check the Rose Bowl off his bucket list.
“Oh, absolutely, I cant wait to go,” he said. “And I just want to say I love my family, I love my wife and this is a dream come true. It’s really a dream come true.”