On a day most people celebrate independence, Nicholas Zielinski and Kaylene Hovey promised a union with each other.
And their engagement happened in the most public way – in front of the crowd gathered for the Cheektowaga Independence Day Parade.
The couple met about a year and a half ago, and Zielinski felt it was time to take their relationship to the next level. He wanted both of their families to be there to celebrate his proposal, and he figured the parade would be the perfect venue.
“I figured I’d do it today at the parade because everyone would be there from both our families,” he said. “It wouldn’t draw any suspicion.”
A member of the Cleveland Hill Fire Department since 2009, Zielinski got permission to use the parade as a stage to pop the question.
On Monday, the parade made its way down Harlem and then Zielinski’s unit stopped at the spot were the couple’s family was waiting.
“I was a little confused,” Hovey said. “I expected his family to be (at the parade), but then my mom and aunt showed up. I thought, ‘That’s weird; everyone is here.’ ”
She became even more confused when Zielinski stepped out of line and headed toward the back of the truck.
That’s when he opened the doors, revealing a banner that read “Kaylene will you marry me?” He then pulled out a bouquet of roses, took a ring out of his pocket, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
Hovey spent a few moments dancing around the street before returning to her boyfriend, putting the ring on her finger and accepting his offer.
“I had no idea what was happening,” she said. “I felt like a celebrity.”
Other fire trucks in the parade sounded their horns, and the crowd cheered in celebration.
Then Zielinski returned to the parade to finish the route, promising to return to be with her not just for the holiday, but forever.
“I’m very happy I chose to propose this way,” he said. “It was a good surprise for everyone.”