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Allegheny

Marriage proposal highlights St. Patrick's Day parade

Megan Guza
| Saturday, March 17, 2018, 4:42 p.m.
Robyn Pawlos kisses her boyfriend, Ryan McArdle, after he proposed to her on the parade route during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh. The pair have been together for eight years, and McArdle made it an objective to surprise Pawlos with a sign, stretched across a Port Authority bus, which McArdle drives for a living, asking for her hand in marriage
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Robyn Pawlos kisses her boyfriend, Ryan McArdle, after he proposed to her on the parade route during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh. The pair have been together for eight years, and McArdle made it an objective to surprise Pawlos with a sign, stretched across a Port Authority bus, which McArdle drives for a living, asking for her hand in marriage
A crowd of green clad friends, family and onlookers watch as Ryan McArdle embraces his girlfriend of eight years, Robyn Pawlos, after proposing to her on the parade route during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A crowd of green clad friends, family and onlookers watch as Ryan McArdle embraces his girlfriend of eight years, Robyn Pawlos, after proposing to her on the parade route during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh.
Robyn Pawlos reacts as her boyfriend Ryan McArdle arrives with a sign stretched on the front of a Port Authority bus asking for her hand in marriage during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh. McArdle, who is a bus driver with the Port Authority, decided to surprise Pawlos with the proposal during the parade. The pair have been dating for eight years.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Robyn Pawlos reacts as her boyfriend Ryan McArdle arrives with a sign stretched on the front of a Port Authority bus asking for her hand in marriage during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh. McArdle, who is a bus driver with the Port Authority, decided to surprise Pawlos with the proposal during the parade. The pair have been dating for eight years.

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, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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