There are endless ways to propose marriage: Slip a ring in a wine glass, write a message in beach sand, pop the question over dinner.
Or, you could use a flash mob, as Michael Turner did in Town Center in Virginia Beach.
Turner, a 34-year-old sailor on the guided missile destroyer Arleigh Burke, wanted to do something fun for his proposal to longtime girlfriend Jamie Story, 32.
So he asked a group of dancers to bust a move before he asked for her hand in marriage.
Patrons at the dining and retail hub were just as surprised as Story when 50 children and adults broke out with synchronized steps in front of a crowd at the Fountain Plaza on Sept. 2.
Stephanie Greeves, owner of Center Stage Dance Company and the flash mob's organizer, started dancing first, her arms swaying to pop tunes blaring on a speaker. A few preschoolers joined in, clapping and stepping from side to side. Then a few dozen more people skipped to the plaza for the fun.
Restaurant guests dining on a nearby patio looked up from their pasta to dole out cheers. Bystanders recorded the performance on their smartphones. At the end of the routine, the dancers formed an aisle on bended knee as Turner sauntered through with a pink rose and a diamond ring.
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Story, who had been seated at the fountain, walked toward him crying. She thought they were there to have dinner with her parents, who were visiting from North Carolina.
Turner's voice couldn't be heard above the music. As the two kissed and embraced, the audience knew her answer.
Story, who works as a personal chef, said she was surprised Turner organized such an elaborate proposal.
“He's not very romantic normally,” she said with a giggle. But she figured something special might happen when she saw the dancers:
“I said, `Someone's going to come out and ask to get married. I hope it's me.'”
Turner chose a flash mob because Story participated in one before. He wanted to propose before he's deployed early next year. They have a 2-year-old son together, and Story's 15-year-old son had been nudging him to make a move, too.
“She absolutely is my best friend,” he said.
Greeves, the studio owner, said dancers were quick to sign up and make the couple's day special. They got something out of it, too.
“It was on their bucket list to participate in something like this,” she said.