By RICHARD WALKER
POULSBO—The stocking-capped, striped shirt-wearing character from the “Where’s Waldo” books knelt down in front of three children at the “Where’s Waldo” party July 29 outside Liberty Bay Books and asked them if they knew who he was.
The children eyed him curiously. Jessica Ross, the children’s mother, didn’t give him a second look when he entered the party and walked by her.
Waldo invited Nolan, 2, to take off his cap; the boy was hesitant.
Waldo removed his cap and glasses, revealing that he was really their dad, Lt. Cmdr. Brian Ross, USN, home from deployment with the USS Ohio (SSGN 726).
The surprise was such a surprise, that it took Jessica Ross a few seconds for reality to sink in.
Her husband likes to surprise her, “but this one takes the cake,” she said. “I’m still in shock.”
Lt. Cmdr. Ross, 33, hadn’t seen his family for several months. His captain granted him leave as the baby’s due date neared. He knew from a phone conversation with his wife that she planned to take the kids to the “Where’s Waldo” party, so he called book store owner Suzanne Droppert the morning of the party and asked if he could disguise himself as Waldo. She was more than happy to oblige.
The stars couldn’t have been more aligned on this event. As Ross awaited his cue from inside That’s A Some Italian restaurant, he saw his wife, mother-in-law and children walk by. A recording of Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” was playing; it’s the song he and his wife danced to at their wedding. They were married Aug. 5, 2005. The baby is due Aug. 6 and could arrive on their anniversary.
Jessica’s mother, Judy Johnson, was able to keep the secret when Droppert handed her a cell phone and said, “You might want to video this.” Johnson recognized the phone as her son-in-law’s. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Lt. Cmdr. Ross said his children — Eden, 5, Korban, 4, and Nolan, 2 — don’t watch much TV, but like to play outside with their dog, Panda, ride their bikes, read books, and play tickle monster with their dad.
Ross said Korban was the first to figure out his identity, and that didn’t surprise him. “She likes puzzles,” he said.
The “Where’s Waldo” party was presented by Liberty Bay Books.