A lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps who has been away for months gave his mother a special birthday surprise in Buena Park on Monday night.
Lance Corporal James Williams showed up at Pirate's Dinner Adventure, a pirate-themed restaurant that hosts live shows, wearing a costume so his mother didn't recognize him at first.
The restaurant hosts live shows at a so-called "dinner theater" within a 250,000-gallon indoor lagoon, with restaurant patrons able to join the cast and crew during the show.
At one point, Ms. Williams was called up to the stage. In a video clip, she can be seen standing next to a man who is kneeling on the floor and dressed as a pirate. The man is also facing the floor with his head down, wearing a big floppy white hat that covers his face.
A host standing next to her asks her to take a box from the man kneeling.
"The pirate behind you will give you your gift," he tells Ms. Williams.
The woman takes the gift and starts speaking to the audience, when the man kneeling suddenly gets up and takes off his hat. Facing a different direction, she doesn't even recognize him at first.
Then, he takes off his hat, looks at her and says "Congratulations."
Screaming "Oh, my god," she hugs him tightly.
The mother and son embrace for some time, as she can be heard saying "Oh, my god, are you serious?" and kissing him on the cheek.
Just prior to the show, Lance Corporal Williams told KTLA he knew his mother would have quite the reaction to finally seeing her son again.
"I know she's going to get emotional. She's going to cry for sure," he said, smiling.
The surprise was organized by not just the Marine, but his aunt who knew that his mother would be celebrating her birthday at Pirate's Dinner Adventure.
Wendy Compton, the Marine's aunt, said she knew for months that Lance Corporal Williams would be coming home soon and it was hard to keep the secret.
"We were just talking this week, and we were sauing how much we missed him," Compton said. "[His mother] is like, 'I can't wait to see him' and I'm like holding this [surprise] in."
Ms. Williams was taken aback at the sight of her son, who will be back for 10 days before reporting back to North Carolina where he's stationed for duty. She said she couldn't believe it at first.
"[I thought] is that really my son? Is he really here for my birthday?" she said, calling the whole occasion "an amazing birthday — one that I'll never forget."