It came down at 7:42 a.m. A simple Facebook post from one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League.
"I'll be in Lufkin tomorrow…BBQ…Drinks on me..also I want to play kick ball so we need to form some teams … I’m trying to figure out which park has the most space to set all of this up at…any suggestions on parks hit my inbox…trying to have fun before I head back to camp…"
"It was actually 2:30 in the morning in my hangout spot. I was telling my brother, I wanna go home. Let's go play kickball. I want to see them. I wanted to come back and give my support."
There you have it. Dez Bryant decided to give all of Lufkin about 28 hours notice. He was coming and he was bringing kickball and barbecue.
It didn’t seem real. When a celebrity of Dez’s stature comes to his hometown and wants to be public with it, that kind of thing is reserved for a police-escorted ticker-tape parade with at least a week’s notice.
But Dez wanted to come to Lufkin. And so he did.
"It was actually 2:30 in the morning in my hangout spot," Bryant said Thursday. "I was telling my brother, I wanna go home. Let’s go play kickball. I want to see them. I wanted to come back and give my support."
So the idea was born at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and was announced to the world five hours later. But would it really happen?
Parks and Rec Director Mike Akridge said he had received calls from Dez's people that he wanted to come to town and needed a place to put on a party. Akridge suggested Kit McConnico Park.
Lufkin police got word that Dez was coming and decided to put their special services unit on duty.
"It was definitely exciting," said police spokeswoman Jessica Pebsworth. "When Lufkin's favorite son comes home, you do what you got to do."
But still, was Dez Bryant really going to show up?
At 9:54 a.m. Wednesday, Bryant provided an update.
"13k on BBQ I hope that’s enough y’all better be hungry lol"
Another update at 11:24 a.m.:
"16k for BBQ lol"
At 1:56 p.m., Texas-famous Pinkerton’s Barbecue in Houston announced they would be catering the event.
"Sorry, no lunch tomorrow. We will open at 5pm (We will have dinner and $1 beers) This guy named Dez Bryant is throwing a party in Lufkin and bought everything we could put on the pits!"
Definitely felt real then.
Dez later shared a flyer on his Facebook page, announcing the event would go from noon to 8.
When the noon hour hit Thursday the heat index had hit triple digits. The only evidence of a Dez Day were families dressed in their 88 jerseys and bounce houses set up in the park.
But then the barbecue rolled in around 1. The mouth-watering brisket with the thick bark likely made the trip to the park worth it all alone.
By the time 1:30 rolled around, hundreds of people were lined up under the shade and may have started to feel a little frustration.
At 2, word started getting around that Dez was coming. Police were getting in position.
Around 2:30, it happened. Dez had arrived. In a sleek black Bentley SUV.
Donning a bucket hat, a shirt with a "88/X" on the front and the Lufkin area code on the back, Lufkin's favorite son walked up to a mobile platform and began speaking from the heart.
"Man, I’m at a loss for words," Bryant said. "I didn't expect this many people."
Dez then told his local fans that he performs for them.
"I do it all for y'all," he said.
That announcement was followed by shrieks and cheers from those in attendance.
"Man, hey y'all chill out, you’re going to make me cry up here," he said with a smile.
The smiling didn’t stop. Dez met up with former teachers and principals. He signed autographs. He posed for pictures. He played kickball. All with a smile.
Dez left the park around 7 p.m.
Pebsworth said the day was a success.
"We didn’t really have any kind of disturbances," Pebsworth said. "It was truly a day of family fun at Kit."
Bryant said the spontaneity of it all is what made the day more special.
"It was just a real moment," Bryant said. "It was real. Straight from the heart. Just something I wanted to do."
Dez’s passion is sometimes mistaken for anger. There was a game around 2013 where radio announcers accused him of chasing down Tony Romo and yelling at him.
A few days later, the NFL released the audio of the “earful” Dez was giving Romo. Turns out Dez was just excited and talking to Romo about what they could do to win. Romo was even agreeing with him.
It's proof of his passion for his job. And for one day, Dez showed his passion for his home.
It's a passion which will never be doubted by the 936.
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