Marriage proposal highlights St. Patrick's Day parade
A bus and a banner were the highlight of Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade Saturday as Ryan McArdle proposed to his girlfriend of eight years in front of their friends, family and tens of thousands of strangers.
McArdle, a Port Authority bus driver, was tapped to drive the bus representing the organization in the parade. He'd also been planning to propose to his girlfriend, Robyn Pawlos.
"I got a call that they needed someone to drive the bus — yesterday," he said. "So, I figured, why not put it in the parade that way?"
He said he jumped at the opportunity, but with one big caveat: the banner. The banner, spanning the width of the front of the bus and decked out in shamrocks, posed the big question: "Robyn, will you marry me?"
He'd been planning the proposal for about two months, but the way in which he planned to do it didn't fall together until the day before.
Had the stars not aligned like that, he said, his plan was to "just jump between two floats and carry the banner that way."
Port Authority officials, however, were happy to oblige.
"She may say no," McArdle joked with Port Authority CEO Katherine Kelleman. "If that's the case, I'm just going to take the bus and go to Florida."
Spoiler alert: He didn't need to do that.
The two met eight years ago when McArdle's cousin was dating a friend of Pawlos. That couple conspired to introduce the two. McArdle's family owns McArdle's, a bar on Pittsburgh's South Side. That's where they first met.
The bus was nearly last in the parade — the 171st float. Pawlos and her children, her family and McArdle's family waited three hours in the cold, staked out on the sidewalk between Third Avenue and Fourth Street. Pawlos was unaware of what was coming while her friends and family were giddy with anticipation.
"I respect everybody for hanging through. I was wondering, I mean, I knew it was a big thing, him driving the bus," she said. "They were all here. They stuck it out in the cold."
She said it struck her as odd that her father was willing to stand out in the cold for that long, but the secret stayed safe.
"I was shocked. I was definitely shocked," she said. "I'm still a little bit shocked. I wasn't anticipating this in any way."
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.