Firefighters ‘Turn Out’ for Surprise Wedding Proposal

By PAT JOHNSON | Apr 24, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Rebecca Herczeg was surprised on Saturday by her long-time boyfriend, John Gumble, who with the help of his West Tuckerton Fire Co. friends posed the big question.

Little Egg Harbor — It was the day before Easter at Flowers by P.J., a florist shop in Little Egg Harbor, and Rebecca Herczeg was busy getting floral arrangements ready for that day’s delivery. Suddenly her boss, Penny Vreeland, ordered everyone out of the shop. The fire company was on its way with a report of a gas leak. Rebecca could hear the fire sirens.

Earlier that morning, around 7 a.m. John Gumble was waiting for his firefighter buddies to show up at the West Tuckerton firehouse to try on a new addition to their turnout gear, a T-shirt with just one word. Each word when formed into a sentence read, “Will You Marry Him?”

Fire Chief Anthony D’Andrea’s wife had made the tees and her husband was ready to escort the young men to the flower shop.

It was all an elaborate plan to make John and Rebecca’s proposal an event to remember.

Sirens blaring, the trucks pulled up in front of the shop. As Vreeland hurried her workers far from the supposed gas leak, Rebecca was stunned to see the group of firefighters posing behind the truck. They opened their coats as her boyfriend John knelt before her.

Still stunned, she stammered yes and his kiss sealed the deal.

“It’s about time,” she said later and explained the couple have been dating for 16 years and are expecting their first child in October. “It’s like the fire company to do something like this, but I didn’t expect it,” she added.

The fire company is like a family. Her future mother-in-law, Cathy Shahinian, is a member and was there in her turnout gear and her future father-in-law, Rob Shahinian, is the assistant chief.

D’Andrea said the couple had luck on their side, as a violent wind and rain storm had passed through the area the previous night. “We only had one call out and that was at 11 p.m.,” he said.

The clouds had parted for the couple as their engagement became official.  —P.J.

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