Keziah Van Vliet didn’t see it coming.
“I didn’t have a clue,” recalled a happy Van Vliet.
All the 22-year-old Chilliwack resident knew was her boyfriend Dan Sanders, a 24-year-old from Abbotsford, wanted to spend Saturday, Dec. 7, reliving some of the high points from the year-and-a-half they’ve been a couple.
It was a “quick trip down memory lane” as Dan put it, that, among other things, included a visit to the CN Rail station in Fort Langley, where they’d danced one time.
Dan, on hearing that Keziah didn’t get a proper prom dance when she was in school, had arranged to bring his own music system to accompany them.
So Dan’s notion of revisiting pleasant past romantic memories didn’t seem at all out of character to Keziah.
As their day was drawing to a close, they headed to Williams park to see the Christmas light show.
Keziah had only been there a few times with Dan, but she knew it had a special place in Dan’s memories.
READ MORE: VIDEO: Lighting up Williams Park
He’s been going since he was seven or eight, when he and some friends would grab a burger and fries at a nearby Triple-O diner before heading for the park.
“Williams Park has always been special to me and my family,” he would later explain.
“I knew it would be a good place to do a proposal.”
Dan knew the park had just added a new feature, a mistletoe arch way, and he was planning to use it to create some new memories.
The couple had spoken, briefly, about getting married a few times, Dan related, but hadn’t got around to getting engaged.
“I always knew she was the one for me.”
After he found out about the arch, Dan got in touch with Barb Sharp, the president of the Christmas in Williams Park Society non-profit group that organizes the annual event.
He explained that he was planning to propose under the arch, and arranged with Sharp to have his older sister Jen hang some special Christmas ornaments with pictures of the two of them.
When they arrived, around 6:30 p.m., Sharp was discreetly positioned down the pathway from the arch, asking other visitors to delay their walks so Dan and Keziah could have their moment.
“Hang on for a second,” she asked, and people did.
When they got to the arch, Dan suggested Keziah should take a closer look at the arch.
“I told her her to turn and look at the ornaments,” he recalled.
Keziah remembers being surprised to see the ornaments with their pictures, and then, when she turned back, seeing Dan was on one knee with a ring in his hand.
She teared up a little, and said yes.
“It was very sweet,” she told the Langley Advance Times afterwards.
She would later learns that Dan had asked her parents for permission to marry their daughter more than two weeks before the event, and they had kept the secret to preserve the surprise.
A date for the marriage hasn’t been set yet, she added.
“It will probably be a winter wedding.”
Sharp believes it was the very first time the new archway was the scene of a marriage proposal.
“As far as I know,” she laughed.
Christmas in Williams Park, which is located near 68th Avenue and 238th Street, will run until Dec. 21 every night between 5 p.m. and 9, p.m. rain or shine or snow.
Admission is free, but visitors are invited to make donations.