American Fork, Utah, has nearly 30,000 residents, but only one of those residents can claim the title of “World’s Most Embarrassing Dad.” Dale Price, husband, stay-at-home dad of three children and professional paintballer, has put American Fork on the map both on national and international news thanks to his morning ritual of dressing up in costume and waving at his son’s school bus on its morning route.
It all began with a hearse.
As a teenager with a passion for surfing, Price saw the hearse as the perfect vehicle for holding surf gear and camping out at the beach. Even though he was never able to find a hearse in his teen years, Price did not give up on his dream, and about a decade ago, he finally found and purchased a hearse.
The addition of the hearse to the family complemented perfectly Price’s love of Halloween: “I’ve always liked Halloween, always thought it was one of the best holidays, because there’s no real underlying thing to it. Christmas has very deep meaning, Easter has deep meaning. Halloween . . . is just kids going out and having fun, getting candy, and smiling.” When Halloween rolled around, Price set up a little graveyard in front of his house and used the hearse as part of the decoration.
What started out as a small amount of holiday décor quickly became a sizeable part of the tradition of American Fork’s Halloween fun.
“Now I have two hearses, I decorate on the neighbor’s yard, across the street, everywhere," Price said. "It takes me two months, minimum, and I never finish.” The Halloween decoration has become a family affair for the Prices as well, and they have dressed up as characters from The Incredibles, The Wizard of Oz and the Pirates of Caribbean.
Price’s love of Halloween and costuming made for an easy transition to his most recent project. In August 2010, after his wife, Rochelle, suggested they wave at their son’s bus as it passed the house, Price decided to wave at his son’s bus every morning—in costume. Price recalled, “It was a dumb idea that went crazy.”
Price has dressed up as Indiana Jones, a knight, Kung Fu Panda, a chef, and a bride (go to waveatthebus.blogspot.com to view photos of his daily costumes). By personal choice, Price does not recycle costumes, and finding inspiration for a new costume every day can be difficult: “It’s brutal, actually. There’s some pressure there, trying to come up with something different and new. It just takes some time and effort, walking around your house, your garage, your basement, seeing what you can do.”
While Price’s son, Rain, showed some trepidation at the latest family tradition, Price said he didn’t set out to embarrass his son: “It was really just to start my son’s day off with a smile, to show him not to take anything too seriously. Just be able to laugh at yourself.”
Since that year, the Prices have started a blog, podcast and app, and they have been featured on shows like Inside Edition and Good Morning America, and on numerous magazines, including The National Enquirer.
Most recently, the Prices finished filming for a Japanese reality TV show called Torihada, which means “Goosebumps.” Aside from repeated instructions to “act normal,” Price remembered, “They’d be running down the street after me when I was driving the carpool to school, filming in the windows. [We’d be] walking across the street to the park, there’d be three cameras, a microphone, the director, the producer…”
After filming non-stop from 6:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night for four days, it was no surprise that the family was exhausted and ready for a break.
Rain Price is nearing the end of high school, and with a new driver’s license to boot, the days of riding the bus are coming to a close. While Price said he'll miss that connection with his son, he won’t mind the chance to finally sleep in and not spend the day searching for costume ideas.
Until that day comes, however, Dale Price will continue to be the World’s Most Embarrassing Dad: “If he’s riding the bus, I’ll be waving.”