by David Bodah
Amy and I had only been to WaterFire one other time before I proposed to her.
Our first time attending was during the summer of 2005. It was one of our first dates. The experience was magical and romantic, like nothing I had ever seen; a perfect date for two people beginning to fall in love. I have since come to believe that was when Amy and I first really connected, and the point when our relationship began to blossom
Fast forward to the fall of 2006. I was ready to propose to my then-girlfriend Amy. I wanted it to be a surprise; she loves surprises. . . I also wanted to do something grand to let her know how much she meant to me, and to share my joy and happiness with the world. It didn’t take me long to decide that WaterFire would be the perfect venue.
I contacted my friend, Gary Calvino, who was fundraising for WaterFire at the time, and asked if he could help make my dream come true. He arranged for a boat to depart at 9pm during a Saturday lighting in August.
That afternoon, before the big night, I dropped off a special bottle of wine and two wine glasses for our boat ride. I wanted everything to be perfect.
Amy, who is usually up for anything, was not excited to go out that particular night. We had arranged for my future brother-in-law and sister-in-law to join us in Providence for WaterFire, however, the plan was for them to call and say they were running late and we would meet them downtown. Amy said she really didn’t feel like going out, but after some gentle prodding from me, (careful not to overdo it to raise suspicion) she agreed to go out, but she “wasn’t going to get dressed up or put makeup on.”
I had not realized I had picked the 200th lighting of WaterFire for my proposal until we arrived downtown. There were thousands of people everywhere! After we found parking, I literally pulled my future wife by the hand through the crowds. I did not want to seem like we were in a hurry, but we didn’t have time to stop and talk to people; I had a boat to catch!
We finally reached the dock and I introduced myself to the attendant, who replied.
“Yes, Mr. Bodah, right this way.” Amy looked at me quizzically, but I told her:
“It’s no big deal; a friend gave me a ticket for a free boat ride.”
I thought my heart would jump out of my chest from nerves and anticipation. I would come to find out later that Amy could feel my heart pounding as well. She later told me she was thinking to herself that this would be a perfect time and place for a proposal; however she didn’t think it would happen because I didn’t have the ring yet. The boat’s captain slowly pushed us up and down the river. The music, the fires, the smell of wood burning, the haze of smoke; it was very romantic.[sc:col_close]
When we approached the basin, I motioned the boatman to go to the center and stop. I could feel the eyes of thousands upon us. I turned to Amy and told her that I loved her very much. I then reached into my pocket to retrieve a poem I had written for her. After I had read her the poem, seeing tears in her eyes, I reached into my other pocket, pulled out the ring, knelt down in front of her, and asked “Will you marry me, honey?” “Yes!” she said, as she started crying tears of joy, hugging and kissing me.
I slipped the ring on her finger.
We sailed back down the river, like a scene out of a romance movie. People yelled, “Did she say yes?” from the street and bridge above and I shouted back, “Yes!” with jubilation, and people cheered and clapped. We both felt like royalty.
Once our ride was over, we thanked the boat captain and began to walk back into the crowd; almost floating on air this time. “I want to call my mom and tell her!” Amy exclaimed. I said “Let’s just have some time alone together before we tell people.” (As alone as you can be in a crowd of thousands!)I led her to Napa Valley Grille in Providence Place. We walked in the front door and she turned to the left to look for a table. I took her by the hand, spun her around to the right to face the function room, where all our friends and family were assembled. They all yelled, “Surprise!” and rushed to embrace us. She was completely shocked and overcome with emotion, and probably wishing she had dressed up a little!
It was a magical night, and I couldn’t have done it without WaterFire. WaterFire will always hold a special place in both of our hearts! We have a framed picture of WaterFire hanging in our house that Barnaby so graciously autographed for us. It bears the inscription: “May the Fires of WaterFire Always Burn in Your Hearts.” Thank you Barnaby and all those who make WaterFire happen each year, our story is only one of the thousands of memories that will truly last a lifetime. [sc:col_close]