Hundreds of carollers gathered in a park in the southwestern Ontario community of Exeter Monday night to fulfill a local man’s dying wish.

“(It’s) absolutely fabulous,” an emotional Harry Towle told CTV London. “(I’ve) never had anything like this in my life and I want to thank everybody for coming.”

The 78-year-old has terminal lung cancer and will likely not see another Christmas. For his final holiday wish, Towle wanted to have dinner with his girlfriend, drive around Exeter to see the Christmas lights and then stop to hear some carols.

Although they only had a little more than 24 hours’ notice, nearly 300 people -- many total strangers -- arrived in Exeter’s MacNaughton Park to serenade Towle and his family with classic carols like “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells.”

“When I pulled up, I (went), ‘Is this all the people for my father?’” Towle’s daughter, Louise Jones-Towle, told CTV London. “And I thought, ‘Boy, what an amazing turnout.’ Yeah, it’s emotional.”

The turnout was also a total surprise to Towle, who grew up in the area and is now in palliative care at a nursing home in nearby Hensall, Ont.

“It really was a surprise,” Towle said. “I didn’t expect this.”

But organizer Margaret Sutherland, who works at the Hensall nursing home, wasn’t surprised that so many people showed up after a call was put out on social media. The community, she said, is a caring one, and everyone wanted to make Towle’s last Christmas memorable.

“Within 30 hours, it just kind of all came together,” she added. “It just snowballed in a beautiful way.”

The gesture, Towle said, meant “an awful lot.”

“I can’t put it in words,” he added, choking back tears.