A Unique Proposal - We have a winner!
By Grant Johnson
Congratulations to Craig and Andy Kennedy, winning couple of our Valentine's Day contest, A Unique Proposal!
Craig and Andy will get to enjoy a romantic night out in Steamboat Springs, provided by Acqua Salon & Spa, Riggio's Fine Italian Dining and the Inn at Steamboat. Thank you to everyone who participated; we received many heart-warming stories, which were a pleasure to read this Valentine's season.
Here is Craig's winning entry:
Our wedding proposal happened 8 years ago; this is the story of how a small town couple got engaged on the big stage in the Big Easy, New Orleans, Louisiana.
I was sitting with a good friend one night in Steamboat telling him that I was ready to pop the big question to my longtime girlfriend and was running a few scenarios by him when he stopped me and said “just make sure when you propose that it is memorable and that it has a great story that you can tell.” So I went home that night and brainstormed on all of the things that we really loved to do together. The two recurring themes were definitely traveling and music so I knew I had to come up with something that involved both of those things. I pondered our favorite places to visit as well as well as some of the places that we really wanted to go together and came up with a plan in my head. The plan: Head to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and ask my girl to marry me during a concert. The tricky part was to figure out how to make this a surprise because we had talked about marriage many times and I think she knew it was coming soon.
Coincidentally, one of my best friends was getting married that summer and we needed to figure out where to have his bachelor party. Knowing that I wanted to get engaged in New Orleans, my favorite city in the world, I decided we should hold the bachelor party at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and plans were made. I would fly down with the boys for the party over the weekend, and my girlfriend, Andy, would fly down a couple of days later to join me for another week of Jazz Fest.
Now that I had an outline of my plan in my head I just needed to make some phone calls to make it all happen. The plan was to get a hold of my good friend ET, the lead singer and co-founder of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a legendary New Orleans Brass Band for over 30 years. Being that we are good friends I figured this would be no problem so I left ET a message to see what I could figure out. Next I got online and found out where they were playing. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band was opening for Government Mule (another of our favorites) at the Orpheum Theater and now I just had to get tickets to the show.
Now all I had to do was talk to my friend. Well good friends or not, ET is notoriously bad at returning phone calls and by the time I had touched down in the Big Easy I still had not spoken to him. But as fate would have it, in the middle of a crowd of 70,000 people at the main stage at the Jazz Festival fairgrounds, I ran into ET! I told him my plan. He was so excited that it was all we talked about for two hours. So it was finally set, we were on the bands guest list and would have backstage access for the show. As I sat and pondered the events of the day I couldn’t believe how easily my plan had come together. And the more I thought about it the more nervous I became as I realized I would be onstage in front of 1000 of people. But I still had a few hours to calm my nerves. The plan was in place, all I had to do was follow through with it.
When the day of the proposal came I was on cloud nine thinking about how everything came together just as it needed it to and I was sure it was going to be flawless. Andy had arrived and we spent the day at the fairgrounds soaking up the food and music and doing some great people watching and ended up back at our hotel before the night show. As I was contemplating the evenings events to come I got a call from my good friend Jake who was there with us for the bachelor party. He proceeded to tell me that he was playing drums and hanging out with ET the night before until all hours of the night and that ET was so drunk (common at Jazz Fest) that he didn’t even remember talking to me earlier that day. With this news I was of course worried but got ready anyways and headed out to the show. When we arrived at the Orpheum we gave our names to the person at the door and told them we were on the guest list. And that is when my worst fears were confirmed. ET had indeed forgotten about me and we were not on the guest list. Defeated and very upset, I was ready to give up and concede that it just wasn’t meant to be. But that is not where this story ends.
I believe (and hope) that everyone has one friend in their lives that is always there for you no matter what and when something needs to get done, that person does it for you. Well that friend happened to be my buddy Jake who was there at that perfect moment. He took one look at my face and said “don’t worry Craig, I am going to fix this.” And off he went to the backstage door to tell my story. Fifteen minutes later one the security guards from the Orpheum opens the front door, looks at me and says “are you Craig Kennedy?” When I told him that was me he said “right this way please,” and ushered us right in. We were immediately set up with wrist bands and backstage passes and shown to the backstage door. Now one of the things I have not mentioned yet is that I am in a wheelchair from a skiing accident a long time ago and that sometimes things are not always accessible. And as we rolled up to the backstage door my heart sank as I sat and looked at a 19”-wide doorway, which was way too small for me to get through in my chair. But never fear, Jake was there again and simply told the security guards to help pick me up, remove one of my wheels, therefore making the chair small enough to fit through the doorway. They reassembled my chair on the other side of the doorway and carried me up the stage stairs.
We settled into a spot on the side of the stage just in time for ET to spot me and wrap up a song. Now came the exciting part. With the song over, ET got on the microphone and, in his low, raspy musician voice, announced “this is my good friend Craig Kennedy from Steamboat Colorado and he has something he wants to say.” So I rolled out onto the stage, gave hugs to my friends in the band, and then motioned to Andy to come out and do the same. Surprisingly, she really didn’t think anything of this whirlwind backstage access until I started to reach into my backpack to pull out the ring. In a faint voice I heard her mumble “oh God, not now.” But it was too late for her to retreat and I grabbed the microphone (shaking) and simply said “this is the woman I love and I am going to ask her to marry me right now.” And to a standing ovation of 1,000 people she smiled. ET reminded her what she had to say, and she grabbed the mic and said “YES!”. For two days afterwards, everywhere we went we ran into people that said “aren’t you that couple from the Orpheum? I was there! Congratulations!” And to this day I still love telling my story to anyone who will listen.