News / Utah / 

Video shows military family reunion on Tuacahn stage

(YouTube/Tuacahn Amphitheatre)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

ST. GEORGE — A military family was reunited in front of a 2,000-person crowd Thursday when Tuacahn officials executed a surprise plan.

Lt. Col. Dennis Drake has been serving in the United States Air Force in Africa for the last year and was supposed to return home in November.

When he learned it was possible for him to return a bit early, he reached out to Tuacahn Center for the Arts and asked if he could get a ticket to one of the shows his wife and daughter would be attending with his parents, according to Tuachan director of public relations Joseph Smith.

Smith said it was a close-to-sold-out show, but they could do better than just get him a ticket. That's when they arranged for Dennis to surprise his family on stage.

"This night … was Disney's 'When You Wish,' so it was a perfect show to see, because what greater wish could you have than your dad to come home?" Smith said.

Thursday night, Dennis flew into Las Vegas and arrived at the theater with just eight minutes to spare, he said.

Meanwhile, Dennis' wife and daughter, Brandi and Skyler, were called up on stage after being "randomly" selected from the audience to receive a prize.

They first received a bag of Tuacahn prizes and then learned there was one more surprise. Dennis then rose up from a trapdoor onto the stage.

The military dad did see his family once during the 12-month deployment, but this was the longest amount of time he'd ever been deployed.

It was just fun to see a family reunite after having dad be away for a year serving our country.

–Joseph Smith, director of public relations for Tuacahn Center for the Arts

"They were both in tears ... tears of joy, of course," Drake said.

Brandi Drake knew there was a good possibility her husband would make it home for Skyler's birthday Friday, but the plan was a surprise.

Due to the number of requests Tuacahn gets, such as marriage proposals, they don't usually do stuff like this. However, Smith said they needed to do something more than just get him a seat by his family.

"It was just fun to see a family reunite after having dad be away for a year serving our country," Smith said.

Now, the family can enjoy some time together until at least next summer, Dennis said.

Related stories

Related topics

Megan Marsden Christensen


    Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast