Love and romance brought this year’s Fourth of July parade in Sugar Creek to a brief halt so Nate Richardson, a Sugar Creek firefighter and EMT, could propose marriage to Jen Fimreite, the love of his life.

Love and romance brought this year’s Fourth of July parade in Sugar Creek to a brief halt so Nate Richardson, a Sugar Creek firefighter and EMT, could propose marriage to Jen Fimreite, the love of his life.

  “Surprised” best describes Jen’s reaction when the pumper truck leading the annual parade and bearing a “Jen, will you...” banner paused on Sterling Avenue where Jen and Nate’s family and friends were gathered. Seconds later, she was flabbergasted” to see Nate – dressed in his Class B uniform – exit the truck.

  As the 2005 William Chrisman High School graduate approached his teary-eyed sweetheart, she slowly walked onto the street, prodded by Nate’s father, Eddie Richardson.

  “She was in such a shock that my dad had to coax her out to me,” Nate says, recalling he nervously took her hands, dropped to a knee and said something like: “The last three years have been nothing short of amazing. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?

  And when she tearfully replied, “Yes,” sirens wailed, horns blew and red lights flashed from the fire truck. There also was applause and cheers from family members and bystanders witnessing what Jen calls “the best day of my life – hands down. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”

  This special day also included another surprise – her mother and stepfather, Rhonda and P.J. Hermanee, who drove from their home in Castle Rock, Colo. – unbeknowst to Jen – to see the proposal up close.

  The Hermanees and their future son-in-law were passengers in the pumper as it proceeded north on Sterling to the proposal site.  So imagine Jen’s surprise when the truck stopped and she saw her parents through the glass but missed seeing the proposal banner on the side of the pumper at first.

  Says Jen: “I thought, ‘Oh, this is a surprise that my parents are here.’ But not even a second later, I saw the sign and I started trembling. I couldn’t move. I was in such shock. I was so happy and excited.”

  Jen, a medical assistant in vascular surgery at North Kansas City Hospital and Centerpoint Medical Center, was drawn to Nate, she says, because “he was cute and charming and he seemed like he was very family oriented. And that really attracted him to me.”

  So much, in fact, that it was almost love at first sight.

  As for Nate, he found Jen to be a “beautiful young woman” who was outgoing, wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and was fun to be with.

  He liked her a whole lot, he says, explaining “commitment of forever and forever is a long time. And when I got on a knee and asked her – meaning forever – I wanted to be with 100 percent confidence that was what I meant. It took me a little longer to come around, but I did.”

  After the couple purchased a house in Independence with the intent to become engaged, Nate thought it was time to get serious about the future and pop the question.

  But when? And where?

  As for the proposal, Nate favored a “big, flashy beginning ... of our life together.  I wanted it to be more than here’s a ring. Will you be my wife? Will you marry me,” he says. “I wanted it ... to take her breath.”

  With popping the question in a flashy manner weighing heavily on him, Nate came up with an idea involving the Fourth of July parade in his proposal plans.

  “I entertained the idea to my shift partner and said, ‘How about this?’ “And he liked the idea.”

  Now that the proposal date and place had been decided and approved by the Sugar Creek Fire Department, there were many loose ends to be tied in the next four weeks.

  “So there was a mad scramble to get everything in line,” he says, including buying an engagement ring and contacting Jen’s mom and stepfather, her birth father and two brothers, asking for their blessings and (Jen’s) hand in marriage.

  “It was a scramble, but it was blessing that it all worked out as good as it did and was kept a secret from (Jen). That was the hardest part.”

  His Plan A strategy, which worked perfectly, included getting the family, friends and Jen to meet at a designated area near the end of the parade.

  To separate himself from Jen, Nate’s plan called for him to receive a radio call from the fire chief asking for his assistance up the street. Using a four-wheeler to get to the start of the 11 a.m. parade, Nate climbed into the pumper truck and put on his Class B uniform as the truck moved slowly to the rendezvous site.

 Looking back on that day – in which Jen shed tears of joy for 45 minutes – Nate says having everything go smoothly and having surprised his fiancee took a little weight off his shoulders.

  “I was ready to relax and take it all in at that point,” he recalls. “My parents had a cook-out after the parade, so we went (there) and were able to relax and take it all in.”

 Yes, a wedding is on the horizon – hopefully next June.

  “We would like to set a date for next June on the 14th. We are looking at that date right now but haven’t decided on anything yet,” Jen says, other than it’s going to be a big, traditional church wedding with a reception afterward.

  As for the future,  Nate and Jen are looking forward to becoming husband and wife, raising a family and enjoying a happy, fun life.

  Congratulations Nate and Jen.  May your lives always be filled with love, joy and happiness.

 Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at  816-350-6363.