How the sons of this insurance agent sent him 20,000 calls for his birthday

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An innocent birthday graze played on a 61-year-old insurance agent lost control when the man received around 20,000 phone calls and thousands of text messages from benefactors around the world.

The agent, Chris Ferry from Linwood, NJ, received phone calls from remote places such as Africa, Germany, and the Philippines after his sons had paid for a billboard ad inviting passers-by to greet their father a "Happy Birthday."

"WISH MY DADDY HAPPY BIRTHDAY," read the Black Horse Pike Highway. & # 39; Love, Your Sons. & # 39; Ferry's telephone number was also on the board.

Ferry & # 39; s sons – Michael, 28 and Christopher, 30 – were known to have jokes on their father's birthday, but even they couldn't predict how big it would get.

The two discussed what to do to get their 62nd birthday when the older brother had an idea to advertise the event on a large billboard. They just expected a few friends, family members, and a few residents to call their father to greet him.

Christopher took a selfie with the billboard and shared it on Facebook. The post became not too long after that, with more than 200 shares. Then the joke took on a life of its own and circulated large social media hubs such as Reddit, where it attracted even more worldwide attention.

Ferry was quickly flooded with texts and phone calls from random internet-strangers.

"He actually handled it very well, but he was a bit overwhelmed last night," Michael Ferry told The New York Times. "He deleted about 3,000 texts, which took him about an hour and a half to do, and then got about 2,500 within 15 minutes when more news stories were broadcast across the country."

The sons, who are currently running a drug abuse clinic in Boca Raton, FL, said the billboard would remain until April 6.

In the meantime Ferry has stopped accepting the number on the billboard; his family said he has since ordered a new telephone line.