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Arlington firefighter proposes during Fourth of July parade | SLIDESHOW
ARLINGTON — Even before the fireworks show in the skies above the Arlington Boys & Girls Club that evening, this year's Fourth of July celebrations in Arlington had one lucky couple seeing stars.
The Grand Parade on Olympic Avenue drew 75 entries from throughout Snohomish County and beyond, with the Mission Pipe Band coming down from Canada for its 25th year in the annual event, but it was local firefighter Erik Gustafson who stole the show, when he hopped out of his fire engine to surprise his girlfriend, Jacklyn King, by calling her out from the crowds lining the street to propose to her on the spot.
"From the first time I kissed you, I knew I would marry you," Gustafson told King, with Arlington watching. The couple has been dating since they first met in November of 2010, and Gustafson planned his proposal well enough in advance to invite King's parents out to the parade from their home in eastern Washington.
"When the fire truck stopped and he stepped out onto the street, I didn't know what was going on, so I almost didn't want to go out there in front of everybody, but when he got down on one knee, I lost it," said King, who accepted Gustafson's proposal. "He played it off pretty well."
Gustafson managed to keep the proposal a surprise from King even after she received an envelope from Strauss Jewelers in Mount Vernon, which he told her was a referral from his brother-in-law, who had shopped there for his own ring.
While Gustafson may have told King a white lie to protect his surprise proposal, what the couple couldn't hide was their true feelings for each other.
"She's just amazing, from her smile and her personality to the size of her heart and her kindness in putting up with me," Gustafson said.
"He puts up with more from me than I put up with from him," King said. "He's selfless and sweet, and he comes from an amazing family."
"They're your family now," Gustafson said.
"I've never met anyone who's treated me or looked at me the way he does," King said.
The couple is leaning toward getting married next year, possibly during the summer.