If you had seen them grabbing onto the railing, you'd know that Chris Jennings and Licia Yee of Waltham were not being applauded for their ice-skating abilities at the Rockefeller Center rink in New York City last month. It was because Jennings had just pulled out a diamond ring and gotten down on one knee to propose marriage, which resulted in Yee "hopping up and down and crying," he says.
Word got out, thanks to a trio of shrieking adolescent girls, and Yee and Jennings were being hugged, high-fived, and applauded by the crowd. Looking on were their parents, Thomas and Bridget Jennings of Dedham and Brenda and Wendell Yee of Watertown. "It was the warmest feeling you could get," he says.
The weekend trip had been six months in the making, and Jennings, 28, a systems engineer for Cisco Systems and the mastermind behind it all, shared the secret with his parents and future in-laws only one day before the group departed from Boston. The idea came to him when he was in Manhattan on business in June and took time out to shop for a birthday gift for Yee, 27, an office manager at Brookline-Newton Health Center.
"I already knew I was going to marry her," he says of his girlfriend of 2 1/2 years. Passing Radio City Music Hall, he noticed a sign for the "Christmas Spectacular" featuring the Rockettes. "I thought that would be a good excuse to get everyone down here." It was Yee's first trip to the city.
He booked rooms at the Waldorf Hotel in Midtown for the weekend and made reservations for One if by Land, Two if by Sea, a restaurant/bar in Greenwich Village known for its romantic ambience.
After the skating, Yee kept looking for the bus Jennings had told her was on its way.
But Mr. Romantic had actually arranged a stretch limousine - stocked with two bottles of champagne for the group and four dozen red roses for Yee. Though the driver got lost on the way to the restaurant, "the meal was perfect," Jennings reports. The prospective in-laws, who "had never hung out with each other, had a blast."
After dinner, only the prospective married couple went to the lounge at the Waldorf, where staff "like English butlers" waited on them. "They were cordial but not snooty," he said. "We stayed up until 6 in the morning. We were so excited we couldn't sleep. It was awesome."
On Saturday the families took a double-decker bus tour of the city. (Jennings's father hadn't been back to New York since he had landed there from Ireland at age 18.) The show at Radio City Music Hall, later than evening, "was awesome."
On Sunday, they went as close as they could get to the site of the World Trade Center. "It was pretty sad. I prayed for the people who lost their lives and also thought how you should treat people well and be happy and live your life as best you can. Because everything could be over tomorrow."
The next trip for Yee and Jennings, who plan to marry in July, will be their honeymoon - perhaps in Hawaii.
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