It was a gorgeous 65-degree breezy Saturday afternoon on the Sundial Bridge in Redding with a few more people on the bridge than usual – about 50, to be exact.
And starting about 2:30 p.m., it was hard not to notice all the people on the bridge who held stems of yellow roses, as if waiting for something.
They were. At precisely 3 p.m. they knew to watch for the arrival of Jesus Romero of Palmdale, and his bride-to-be, Rachel Runyan of Redding.
But Rachel didn’t know she was the bride-to-be. Not yet.
But scores of others knew of Romero’s plan to propose that day, and had enlisted their help. Her family and friends knew. And friends of friends. And those couldn’t there in person were there via phones, kept in touch in real time.
“Are they here yet?” Came the voice over a phone craddled by one of the rose-holders.
“Not yet. Pretty Soon. OK, here they come. Gotta go.”
It was like a romantic stake-out of sorts, with those in on the secret hanging out at the bridge, waiting for their cue to hand Runyan a yellow rose, as the couple strolled across the Sundial Bridge, as if if were just any other Saturday afternoon … when a man proposes marriage, and dozens of people are in on it. And out of nowhere, people are following them with cell phone cameras, and music is following them, too.
I want to stop, and thank you baby, how sweet it is to be loved by you. Feels so fine. How sweet it is to be loved by you.
It didn’t take long for Runyan, a 28-year-old who teaches math at Parson’s Elementary School, to put two and two together and figure out that something was up, especially after she’d collected an arm load of yellow roses, and KRCR reporter Colin Steiner hovered in plain sight with a camera and microphone.
It was one of those full-smile, joyful events, with the beaming flower-handlers saying things like, “We love you,” and “It’s a beautiful day,” as adults and children alike handed roses to a now-laughing Runyan, who still held onto Romero’s arm as the two continued their walk over the bridge, around the curve and toward the underside of the Sundial Bridge, which was strewn with red roses, and crowded with expectant, grinning people.
Romero, a 38-year-old social worker, didn’t disappoint. He led his love to the center of the red roses, where he told Runyan how much he loved her … loved everything about her; her heart, her smile, everything.
Romero said that whenever he looked at Rachel, all he could think was how much he wanted to marry to her.
With that, the crowd did a collective gasp as Romero dropped to one knee.
I mean, how many times in one life does anyone get to see that?
As Romero asked if Runyan would she would marry him, the beautiful woman with the blue eyes took the face in her hands of the handsome man with dark hair and eyes.
She said yes. The couple kissed.
The crowd applauded. “Whoot, whoot!” shouted someone. Spectators from above, who leaned and peered over the side of the Sundial Bridge to see what the commotion was all about, cheered and clapped, too.
Beneath the bridge, people hugged. A baby fussed. A little showed his mother a tiny fish he found. Family and friends offered best wishes to the couple, which almost felt like a wedding.
Speaking of weddings, the couple, who met on ChristianMingle.com, will marry June 14 at Bethel Church, Runyan’s family church since she was born.
The date the last available summer Saturday – was secured in advance with some help from Runyan’s family and friends, who were 100 percent sure Runyan would say yes.
Karen Runyan, Rachel’s mother, smiled when asked about her future-son-in-law.
“Oh, I love him!” Karen Runyan said. “He’s sweet and and kind, and adores Rachel.”
Clearly, that does seem the case.
I needed the shelter of someone’s arms, and there you were. I needed someone to understand my ups and downs, and there you were. With sweet love and devotion, deeply touching my emotion, I want to stop and thank you, baby. How sweet it is to be loved by you. How sweet it is to be loved by you. Song by James Taylor.
Photos by Shelly Shively.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.