Kier Gaines shared some of the highlights from his two-day trip to Philadelphia with his daughter Emery in a heartwarming Instagram Reel
In December, Kier Gaines posted an Instagram Reel surprising his 6-year-old daughter Emery with a vacation to Philadelphia
The now-viral video — which has over 1.4 million likes — sparked an outpouring of emotion in response, including one sweet comment from Viola Davis
Gaines spoke to PEOPLE about his bonding time with Emery and how his family reacted to the video's buzz online
A 6-year-old girl in Washington, D.C. had the most precious reaction when her dad surprised her with a father-daughter getaway.
“Get dressed, we're going on a date,” Gaines wrote in the video’s caption, referring to moment he surprised Emery. The father of two continued, “Finished the year spending 1-on-1 time with my first born. Six is my favorite age to parent and there is not even a close second. She's such a little vibe.”
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“Remember when I said I was gonna take a train to go to Philadelphia and I said I wasn’t gonna leave today?” Gaines asked his daughter from behind the camera at the beginning of the video. Her expression fell with disappointment as he continued, “I am leaving today. I’m sorry, and I’m gonna spend the night.”
Emery’s hope visibly returned as her dad delivered his exciting surprise: “That’s the bad news. You wanna know the good news? Well the good news is you’re coming with me, and the reason I’m going to Philadelphia is ‘cause me and you are gonna do a date.”
As Gaines detailed a few items on the itinerary for their time away — staying in a hotel with a swimming pool and going to a play museum — Emery lit up in a mix of disbelief and sheer delight.
“Me and you are gonna have two days, just me and you traveling and having a great time,” Gaines elaborated after telling Emery to pack her clothes and get ready to board the train two hours later. He then prompted her, “Would you like to go with me?”
“I would love to,” Emery politely replied through her “profound excitement,” as Gaines describes her reaction to PEOPLE. “I don't think that she stopped talking for the next three hours,” he adds.
The video — which has garnered over 1.4 million likes — also featured a montage of highlights from their fun-filled two-day trip to Philadelphia, including their ride there, which Gaines says was Emery’s first time traveling by train. They checked into their room and hit the ground running — literally — as they both participated in the many activities at the children’s museum.
As seen in the Reel, the father-daughter duo grabbed a meal at a Vietnamese Pho restaurant and spent time splashing around at their hotel’s indoor pool. They wrapped the night in bed, eating ice cream cones side by side.
Though their schedule was chock-full of fun things to do, Gaines tells PEOPLE his favorite part of the trip was getting to know his daughter better. On the train ride there, they relished in their one-on-one time together with some “great conversation.”
“I feel like 6 is the age that the human in the being turns on,” Gaines explains. “She has so many viewpoints, jokes and opinions now. My wife and I have a younger daughter as well, so undistracted solo time between the two of us is hard to come by.”
Instagram users flocked to the video’s comment section to share their appreciation for Gaines’ touching getaway with Emery. EGOT-winner Viola Davis showed some love for their father-daughter bond as well, commenting a series of crying emojis and hearts.
One user applauded Gaines for planning such a special occasion, “That’s a core memory you just gave her. She’ll carry it in her heart for the rest of her life (and of course, so will you) ❤️❤️.”
“My heart. The way she said ‘I would love to’ what a princess!!!! She deserves all of it!!!” read another comment.
“The response has been overwhelming in the dopest way possible. We had another video go viral a few years ago actually. It allowed me to walk away from my job and changed our lives forever,” Gaines says.
He adds that it’s “very validating” to see the impact of his videos, since he’s focused on creating content focused on mental health and family.
“Reading all of the beautiful memories from the people in the comment section is really special to me,” Gaines tells PEOPLE. “It feels good to see so many people speak to the depth of impact that dads make in their kids' lives.”
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