Come fly with me
HUGHESVILLE – “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away,” was the inventation Jason Starr extended as he proposed to his sweetheart, Angela Yaw, during festivities at the hot air balloon festival Saturday, September 17.
The couple had met a year ago through mutual friends. During the past two months, the Montgomery man began formulating a plan for the surprise proposal. “I was sure she’d say yes, I just couldn’t find a way to get her into the balloon,” the future bridegroom said.
As a chaser during last year’s fest, it suited Starr to pop the question aboard the balloon aptly called the “Sir Prize”. His fair lady was, and had remained opposed to flying. Even when Starr intended timidly to broach the subject recently, Yaw was still firmly set against boarding a hot air balloon.
It became necessary to add a little conning to the mix, as each rider must sign a waiver. Yaw’s signature was obtained when Starr told her that ground help needed to sign too. The commutating of plans included asking permission from Angela’s parents, David and Karen Yaw of Hughesville. Starr told his parents Beth Forcey, William Starr and stepmother Helen Sullivan Starr. Another insider was family friend and jeweler, Tim Shull of Muncy who is with Blair Brothers Goldsmiths of Williamsport. A white gold ring was delicately fashioned around a special diamond.
For this occasion, the keeper of the ring was balloonist and pilot Ken Leota of Howell, New Jersey. In addition to the owner, in on the secret were his crew and balloon mister, Rebecca Elkins of Nevada, who coordinates rides, activities and is weather watcher.
The secret remained well kept. When Yaw was asked how her beau successfully coaxed her aboard, she replied, “He just said get in, and I did.” Starr said he proposed immediately so she’d realize what was going on.
Finally it was up, and up and away, as parents and a small group of people saw them off. The balloon, basket and all on board landed at Heatherbrooke where many residents went to greet them.
After the fact, Yaw agreed there couldn’t have been a more appropriate lift-off site than the Lycoming County Fair Grounds. The bride-to-be is the fourth generation member of the Stoltz family with decades of involvement with the fair. A building was named honoring her great-grandfather who’d been fair secretary, followed by daughter Mary Ann Heydenreich, and granddaughter and current secretary, Karen Yaw.
For the Starr family, the event was bitter sweet as the stepmother’s father, Ray Sullivan, passed away and also his home was inundated with flood waters. “My stepmother was instrumental in planning the surprise, as she’d been involved with previous balloon festivals,” Starr said.
While the couple said no date has been set for a wedding, all wish them a smooth flight through life.
For many of the 12 balloonists at the Rotary fundraiser, they gathered again near Lake George New York, at Glen Falls, for the Adirondack Balloon Festival.