The stakes for Matt Poliak were rising with every day. The two-year anniversary of dating his girlfriend, Grace Johnson, was coming up, as was her birthday, and the third birthday of her daughter.
But the biggest adrenaline rush was coming on Dec. 14, the day of the Winter Daze Parade in their hometown, Menomonie, Wisconsin.
Poliak planned something special.
Being a local firefighter for almost a decade, he walked in the parade uniformed along with his colleagues. When he approached the place where Johnson was watching from the sidelines, her daughter Isla ran toward Poliak to give him a hug.
Poliak went down on one knee to greet the girl. But when Johnson approached them, it quickly turned out Poliak had another reason to kneel.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a small box, opened it, and, revealing a diamond ring, asked for Johnson’s hand in marriage.
She said yes. The crowd went wild.
But then Poliak got on one knee again. And pulled out another diamond ring—this time for the daughter, Isla.
“She’s such a sweetheart and has been a blessing to me to be able to share time with the past couple years,” Poliak said over Facebook. “There was no way she wasn’t going to be included in the process; she was asked if she wanted to be a part of my family, and she said yes.”
Not only did Isla said yes, she gave Poliak a big hug on top of it.
“I was very anxious as the proposal took place but instantly felt so much better when they both said yes,” Poliak said.
A proposal in the middle of a road in the middle of a parade may be unusual, but Poliak saw it as a good opportunity.
“I thought that would be a good way to get a bunch of our friends and family there to celebrate the moment without her knowing what was going to happen,” he said.
Indeed, the plan needed to stay under wraps.
“As the moment got closer I became quite nervous and there were a few close calls where people almost let the surprise out before the day of the parade,” he said.
In the end, he managed to pull off a genuine surprise.
“Neither of them suspected anything,” Poliak said. “Grace and I had talked about marriage but never really talked about when it was going to happen.”
The two knew each other for many years.
“She was working her way through her master’s degree in dietetics and working at a local bar and grille that I enjoy going to,” he said.
Now they have the promise of a lifetime together ahead of them.
“We haven’t settled on a date yet but we’re both excited and have some preliminary plans in mind for the special day,” Poliak said.
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