You may have heard of wedding crashers, but have you ever heard of a parade crasher? Ryan Riopel had one extra special reason for sneaking into the middle of Lacombe’s Santa Claus Parade last week. He thought it was the perfect opportunity to propose to his girlfriend, Chelsea Morrow. 

Ryan knew he wanted to pop the question in a big way. He considered doing it on a family trip to Niagara Falls but travel plans fell through. Then he considered proposing to her on the Lacombe Flying Club’s Twinkle Tours but that was a little challenging. 

“I called up the Aviation Club, talked to the pilot and the pilot says, ‘well, we fly at 2,000 feet the letters would probably need to be 40 feet to 50 feet high’.  I thought there's no way I'm going to find enough Christmas lights to do that,” said Riopel. 

Ryan had been planning to do an elaborate proposal for about eight months before finally popping the question at Light Up Lacombe’s Santa Claus Parade. Ryan had a couple of coworkers hidden in the crowd about a block away with a holiday outfit perfect for a Santa Claus Parade and a sign that said ‘marry me’.

“It was only the finest dollar store Santa Claus mask I could find,” he laughed.

It wasn’t too hard for Ryan to sneak away with so much happening in one area. 

“I just kind of slowly disappeared into the crowd behind us and ran up a block and got dressed. I just walked into the parade like I owned the place,” said Riopel. 

“I knew he was sitting with me at the parade, but he kind of kept disappearing. Our family members were kind of all spread out sporadically throughout the one area. I just thought, ‘oh, he's going to go talk to his mom’ or he’s over here. I didn’t actually notice he disappeared,” added Chelsea. 

One thing Chelsea did find a little peculiar was just how passionately her family insisted on her being at the front of crowd for the parade. 

“It took a lot of convincing for me to actually get up to the front. I didn't want to interrupt the little children and their moms. I got pushed up there and I kind of got some glares from some moms. All of a sudden, these two people start doing their magic trick and a curtain lifts from a sign and it says ‘marry me’ and I see Ryan on one knee,” said Chelsea. 

“The funny thing about the mask is I couldn't see a darn thing. All I could see was lights and I didn't even see Chelsea in the crowd. I just knew roughly where they were standing and I got down on one knee just hoping she was right there,” added Ryan. 

Photo of proposal

Lacombe Ford was right behind the elaborate proposal and they were kind enough to shine a spotlight on the scene. Meanwhile, Chelsea was astonished by what she saw. 

“[I was] completely stunned. We've been together almost eight years and I didn't know if it would actually ever happen. I was okay with that and the fact that we knew we'd be together for the rest of our lives… I was going to drop to the ground when I saw him take the mask off and I realized it was him. I was completely stunned,” said Chelsea. 

The parade goers cheered and Ryan showed his ‘Marry Me’ sign to the crowd letting them in on what the slight hold up was for. Chelsea, of course, said yes and in the end, the location was perfect. 

“I don't think Ryan realized it, but we met at the Lacombe Memorial Center almost eight years ago at a comedynight. It was kind of fitting that he proposed in front of it. I thought that was really, really sweet,” said Chelsea. 

“It really couldn't have gone better. I had these other ideas for a dramatic proposal. I think this in the end was the best one because it involved the whole family and as well as the whole community that we love. We love Lacombe. It's a beautiful place to live.  I was grateful to share that moment with everybody,” reflected Ryan. 

The happy couple hasn’t chosen a wedding date yet but they are looking forward to putting some plans together for a wedding in the New Year.