AMERICAN FORK -- Some day, maybe 20 years from now, Rain Price may actually forgive his father. That would be when he has kids of his own, who may accuse him of embarrassing them. Then he will get out his photo album and show them how his dad used to dress up every morning and wave to the bus taking Rain to high school from their northwest American Fork neighborhood.
Actually Rain has gotten used to the idea and enjoys laughing with his neighbors and bus friends who check out his dad Dale's new costume every day of the school year. Nearing the 180-day finale of school, Dale has worn something different every day.
He didn't start out with this in mind.
"The school bus for the first time ever came down our street this year," he said. "This was his first year on the bus. My wife came running in the room and suggested we go wave at him to embarrass him. Later I overheard him talking to her, 'Mom, don't let Dad go out there again.' What a challenge."
So it began.
"I came out the next day with a Chargers helmet and jersey," he said. "I didn't plan on it lasting."
Rochelle Price, Rain's mom and Dale's wife, said it evolved from there.
"The next day, he was in an Anakin Skywalker helmet and was just a little goofy," she said. "I took a picture and put it on Facebook. After two or three days my sister called me from San Diego and she suggested I start a blog." And waveatthebus.blogspot.com was born.
After a couple of weeks the sister sent a note to Rebecca Cressman of FM100, giving her a link to the blog and showing her what Dale, a former classmate of hers, was doing every day. That led to a television feature, which prompted the Prices to continue. They had been running out of ideas and materials, but it became a challenge.
As things progressed, Rain became used to the idea.
"The first day of high school I have my dad waving at the bus," he said. "It was really embarrassing. But the last couple of months it has turned into more entertainment."
"Even two months into it, he posted it on Facebook," Rochelle said.
His friends have looked forward to the daily event.
"Some of my friends walk twice as far to the bus stop to see it," he said. "I have a lot of friends who are going to miss it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
"Sometimes the driver says 'enjoy the show,'" Rain said. "We all laugh. Everybody else on the bus learned to like it a lot sooner than I did. It wasn't their dad dressing up like a fool."
The neighbors began offering costume ideas and the materials to create them, which helped.
"The ideas are anything I can think of at this point," Dale said. "I try to do it without spending money. That hasn't worked, but I have spent less than $50 for the entire year. A lot of it is stuff you have sitting around the house. Our neighbors have given us random pieces and we just put them together."
They have set down rules for themselves, the main one being that there would be no costume repeats. Dale is out every morning, except when Rain does not ride the bus, like when he has early morning marching band practice.
Another rule is that the costume comes as a surprise to Rain.
He leaves for the bus stop promptly at 7:10 a.m. The bus passes their home at 7:14, which gives Dale less than four minutes to prepare. Sometimes he has part of the costume on, but not enough that Rain can tell what he will be.
"I will put on what I can that won't give it away, and say 'Bye. I'll see you in a minute,'" Dale said.
Sometimes getting ready is more than just slipping into a costume. Dale often includes details that are not visible from the bus, but make things more realistic.
"Like the scar on his forehead when he was "Terry Potter" (Harry's long lost cousin), Rochelle said.
Dale said the night before each costumed wave and the associated planning was hard for him.
"I worry about it," he said. "You can't relax in the evening until you have something done and ready. That is by far the hardest part.
"I wake up sometimes at night and think about it," he said. "It is kind of annoying."
There are rewards, though.
"It is nice to be able to do something that he can look back on the rest of his life," Dale said.
Both parents said it is important to have a sense of humor, and Rain smiled when they said it.
"Life is hard," Rochelle said. "It is fun to be able to start it with a laugh every day. That is why I married him. He makes me laugh."
Despite all the fun and encouragement, Dale said he doesn't plan on doing again next year -- at least not at this point.
"I will sleep like a baby the first day of school," he said.