Santa’s Surprise

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shamory Gipson, left, shocks his sons, first-grader Khamory Gipson, 7, center, and Khyren Gipson, 3, right, with a surprise Christmas visit home at Wedgewood Elementary School in Baton Rouge on Thursday. Shamory Gipson, home from Army training for a June 2013 deployment to Afghanistan, hadn't seen his sons since June 2012. School PTO volunteer Stephanie Wenger is second from left, and Randall Clifton is dressed as Santa Claus.
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shamory Gipson, left, shocks his sons, first-grader Khamory Gipson, 7, center, and Khyren Gipson, 3, right, with a surprise Christmas visit home at Wedgewood Elementary School in Baton Rouge on Thursday. Shamory Gipson, home from Army training for a June 2013 deployment to Afghanistan, hadn't seen his sons since June 2012. School PTO volunteer Stephanie Wenger is second from left, and Randall Clifton is dressed as Santa Claus.

Donaldsonville boys get to spend holiday with dad

A first-grader at Wedgewood Elementary enjoyed a happy, unexpected and very public reunion Thursday morning.

Khamory Gipson, 7, and his younger brother Khryeh, 3, who doesn’t attend Wedgewood, were first in line to visit with Santa Claus, who had stopped by the school. Khamory wanted video games and a car, just to name a few things. But most of all he wanted to have his dad come home for Christmas.

Army 1st Lt. Shamory Gipson has been separated from his boys since June, when their mother, Kimberly Gipson, moved back home to Baton Rouge and he remained in Hawaii for Army training.

Originally from Donaldsonville, Shamory Gipson is set to be deployed to Afghanistan in June.

The boys thought their dad wouldn’t be able to join them for Christmas this year, but their parents, who are divorced, had planned the surprise reunion at Wedgewood.

Shamory Gipson arrived by plane from Hawaii early Thursday morning and went to the Baton Rouge elementary school.

Khryeh saw Dad first, in the teacher’s lounge.

“He saw me and he ran toward me, but he ran into the couch,” the father recalled with a laugh in an interview later Thursday. Khryeh agreed to keep the visit a surprise.

Then, Gipson stepped behind Santa’s chair and waited.

“I was anxious about seeing him (Khamory) and seeing his reaction,” Gipson said.

When the boys finally visited with Santa, the father, dressed in Army fatigues, sprang the surprise and emerged from behind the chair.

At first stunned, Khamory soon recovered. The brothers rewarded their dad with a big hug.

“(Khamory) was kind of like, ‘Daddy, are you here?’ ” Gipson recalled. “He said he missed me, and was glad I was home, and then he was ready to go play XBox.”

Gipson plans to stay through Dec. 29 and spend as much time as he can with his kids.

The boys’ Christmas gifts aren’t complete yet. Gipson won’t reveal what Santa still plans to give, though he said he’s sure it won’t be a car.