Sewickley man makes memorable proposal to girlfriend
Alex DeLoia told her longtime boyfriend Joey Lancianese that if he ever proposed, she wanted her family to be there to celebrate with them when it happened.
She got her wish-and then some-Saturday when Lancianese, about 50 close friends and family members, and some strangers, too, took part in a marriage proposal flash mob in Sewickley.
In addition to the flash mob dancers, several hundred others, many of whom appeared to be curious onlookers who did not know the couple, gathered at the corner of Beaver and Broad streets, which was closed to traffic for about 45 minutes, to watch the spectacle unfold.
Lancianese said he had known he wanted to propose to DeLoia for a while, but was waiting for the perfect time. The couple, both 25, met at Kent State University and started dating as freshmen. This past April marked six years together.
"I'm a big believer that I want to do this one time and with the right person," he said in an interview the day before the event.
"I want to make it as epic as possible."
Lancianese got the idea to organize a flash mob about two months ago while walking through the Village. At the intersection of Beaver and Broad streets that day, he envisioned how it would play out, he said.
He reached out to borough Manager Kevin Flannery to see if he could get the street closed temporarily. Then, with the help of DeLoia's mother, Cora, contacted Broadway Dance Studio of Kennedy Township and its faculty member Lenora Nemetz to produce, direct and choreograph the flash mob.
Lancianese, who has a background in theater, expected the flash mob to include only himself and dancers from Broadway Dance Studio, but Nemetz suggested friends and family members be involved to make it extra special.
There was only one problem-many of the couple's close friends and family live out of state and were unable to make the scheduled practices.
Instead, videos of the group practices were made and uploaded to a private YouTube channel where family and friends from out of town, including Lancianese's family in Ohio, and other from New York and Texas could watch to learn the steps prior to the event.
Lancianese said it was difficult to keep the secret from his girlfriend.
"Alex thinks I play about 17 softball games per week," he said the day before the performance, laughing as he revealed the cover he used to hide what he was really doing.
It became even more challenging about a month ago when DeLoia began working with Village Green Partners, a nonprofit organization that markets the business district. As the person in charge of social media, part of DeLoia's job is to know what's happening in town.
On the day of the flash mob, DeLoia was under the ruse that they were meeting friends for dinner at Sewickley Hotel. As the couple walked to the restaurant from their Beaver Street apartment, she had no idea that all eyes were on her.
When a group of people started dancing in the street in front of her and Lancianese, she took out her cell phone to snap a few pictures, smiling.
And then Lancianese joined in.
DeLoia appeared shocked, then visibly emotional, when the song changed to Bruno Mars' "Marry You," and friends and family joined in the mob.
The performance ended with a proposal in the middle of the Beaver Street. She said yes.
Originally, Lancianese said he was planning on proposing to DeLoia during a trip to Las Vegas over Labor Day. Remembering her request about the proposal, Lancianese turned the trip into a family vacation.
However, a friend of theirs told Lancianese that DeLoia was getting suspicious and thought he was going to propose. He knew he had to do something else instead.
"She's definitely going to appreciate it," Lancianese said the day before the flash mob occurred.
"When she sees everyone who wanted to get involved, that's going to really take it over the top (for her)."
And it did.
"I'm completely speechless," DeLoia said. "I guess I wouldn't have expected anything less. I mean, I knew it wasn't going to be a restaurant proposal."
"It was perfect. It went off without a hitch," Lancianese said.