CENTRAL SAANICH – A decorative gnome in the front yard is a holding a sign that says "welcome." While he greets people quite conventionally, his human neighbours have a doorbell that rings the funk song Brick House. When the door opens, an orange cat that's been groomed like a lion meows hello.

"People seem to like it," Samantha laughs. "And I'm happier she's happy." Apparently Jellybean the cat was shaved to remedy a minor health issue.

While Jellybean's realization of her inner wildcat is dynamic, Samantha says her dad Sean is a self-described introvert. "He's more subtle when he does stuff."

Like when Samantha was posing in front of the Eiffel Tower during an exchange trip in Paris, her dad was quietly planning for her return. 

"I think I Googled ideas to surprise people at airports," Sean says while looking at his computer. He shows me the photo that caught his attention – which is far from subtle. "Somebody had taken [pictures of] heads and made them large."

So Sean found a local place to print giant photographs of his daughter and her French friend and had them attached to sticks to hold up at the airport arrivals lounge. "And that was 'Part A' of the plan," Sean says.

'Part B' of the plan required no search-engine; it was all Sean's idea. It required him to wear knee-high red socks, which he would reveal until he got to the Victoria International Airport. 'Part B' was a secret to everybody else but Sean. "My wife wouldn't have been impressed."

Sean's wife Wendy sent me a message, titled "How Sean Loved to Embarrass Me."   

She wrote about what happened when they got to the arrivals lounge: "I went to the bathroom and when I came out and sat down, he sauntered up and sat beside me." 

Sean sat beside her dressed in a full chicken costume. "And her only response was 'Oh no,'" Sean says while imitating his wife hanging her head and sighing. "And that was it."

Their son Evan was there too. Sean shows me a selfie with him wearing the chicken mask and Evan sitting about 20 metres away, mortified. Sean kept egging them on.

"I was trying to stay as close to my wife and son as possible," Sean says with a laugh, "But they kept trying to walk away."

About 20 minutes later, passengers started arriving. Sean walked towards the door with the giant head photos and raised them high with his feather-covered arms.

Samantha was at the back of the crowd and couldn't see at first. "The people in our group were laughing and pointing," she recalls, "And we were like, 'Oh! What's that?'"

Samantha says she noticed the giant heads first, before seeing who, or rather, what, was holding them. "It's my dad," she said with surprise.

"Immediately their heads just dropped, they were shaking," Sean says with a laugh. "That was good!"

Sean shows me video of the moment. It seems what ultimately hatched from all this fowl play was a sometimes subtle dad letting his daughter know – without a doubt – how boldly he loved her. "It was nice to know he went out of his way to do that", Samantha says.

I ask if it's ever happened again. Samantha answers no, before laughing, "He chickened out!"

Although she's been greeted by a featherless father ever since, there's no shortage of unique characters to welcome her home.

Whether its Jellybean roaring, or the garden ornament reminding her, there's gnome place like gnome.