A Proposal For the History Books

January 22nd, 2020 News and Events

You may have dropped the ring, too.

After all, not everyone proposes marriage with General George Washington and his staff looking on…and with a TV cameraman filming you…and on Christmas Day.

That was the situation Calvin H. found himself in at the 67th annual Christmas Day crossing reenactment at Washington Crossing Historic Park. It was just as he’d planned it…more or less.

“I thought, ‘I’ll do this at the crossing, it’ll be nonchalant, maybe someone will take our picture, maybe I’ll get some reenactors to stand with me,’” Calvin says. “It turned out to be a little bigger than I thought! And when the moment came, damn if I didn’t drop the ring when I took it out of the little drawstring bag I’d put it in. Fortunately, it landed on top of the grass, and I quickly scooped it up and handed it to her.”

Calvin and his new fiancé Laura met while waiting in line at a Panera Bread in 2011 – “I’m not shy,” says Calvin. Turns out both had a long-time interest in colonial times, so over the ensuing years they visited various historic sites and primitive craft shows. But they were officially hooked when they attended the park’s First Crossing in 2018.

“We had never attended before and we were instantly addicted,” says Calvin, who has documented evidence of ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. “I was determined to participate in the 2019 first crossing, but I screwed up the date and didn’t register in time. I went to the park, and who do I bump into but the man who portrays General Knox. He asked me what unit I was with and I said ‘none.’ Next thing I knew I was assigned to a company, and I was in the first boat to cross the river.”

The uniform Calvin had made arrived on December 6, just two days before the First Crossing. Meanwhile, Laura was racing to make her own outfit – a deadline she wouldn’t make. That was secretly OK with Calvin because it gave him the chance to understand the order of the event and think through where he would propose to her during the Christmas Day crossing.

“Early on at the Christmas crossing Laura went to the restroom, so I had to scramble,” Calvin says. “I rounded up some reenactors and I approached General Washington’s entourage and asked if they could take a minute to come over. I also asked the NBC10 cameraman if he could take our picture with my pocket Nikon. He said, ‘Are you serious? I have this!’ and pointed at his video camera. I thought he would take some video and send it to me, but we made the news that night.”

Calvin proposed using his late mother’s wedding band. When Laura said yes, those gathered around let out a “Huzzah!” A 2021 marriage is planned.

“Obviously the engagement was the most memorable part of the day, but the crossing has to be one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done – it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” Calvin says. “We’re going to be back every year; this is a tradition now.”