Updated: October 24, 2013 6:09AM
Adam Warn placed a note and a flower on the pier outside the Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake.
The 22-year-old St. John man then waited on the restaurant’s upstairs balcony, staring anxiously at the tranquil lake on this crisp, picture-perfect evening.
In just a few minutes, his girlfriend of six years, Alyssa Ford, would soon arrive without having a clue that she would leave a new woman — his fiancée.
Actually, there were clues, five in all, the first one in the form of a letter that Warn left for her earlier that afternoon.
“I want to take you on an adventure,” he wrote. “But first there are some rules to follow. One, you must go home and change into something nice for your trip. Two, you must open all the letters and read them at once. I love you Alyssa and I’ll see you later.”
On the envelope were instructions to drive to the St. John Ice Arena. She surely knew why.
“Let’s start our journey off at the first place we ever hung out. The Ice Arena parking lot,” Warn wrote. “Look at the first light pole you come to.”
There, Ford found the next letter: “Take a trip back in time to the day we first met. Out of all the people that were here that day I was lucky enough to spend it with you,” Warn wrote like a true romantic.
On its envelope were instructions to drive to a familiar bridge on 117th Street in St. John.
There, she found another letter: “Our relationship isn’t perfect. We’ve had some obstacles to get over. But our love has built a bridge from your heart to mine,” Warn wrote.
On its envelope were instructions to drive to a popular park of theirs in the town.
“As we walk down the path of life, out of all the millions of roads in the world, I was able to find the one that led me straight to you,” that letter stated.
On its envelope were instructions to drive to the Lighthouse Restaurant, an upscale eatery sporting a nautical theme, a boatload of windows, and the tastiest bread as an appetizer.
I know this because I just happened to be there that evening while Warn waited for his bride-to-be to arrive. I took my fiancée there for her birthday and we asked a young couple in the outdoor dining area to snap our photo in front of the lake.
That couple turned out to be Warn’s best friend, Jacob Krause, 22, of Cedar Lake, and his fiancée, Danielle Hoyle, who’s also 22. They got engaged in January, Krause told me, though without the grand gesture of a scavenger hunt for Hoyle’s engagement ring.
“Adam is much more of a romantic than I am,” Krause said with a shrug.
Still, it was Krause who introduced Warn and Ford to each other at the St. John Ice Arena back in 2007. It was Warn who got Krause a job at his workplace, ITS Technologies and Logistics in Chicago. And it was Krause who was on hand at the Lighthouse to record video of Warn’s special moment, with Hoyle’s help.
“I hope Alyssa doesn’t see me,” Krause told me while snapping our photo.
A couple of minutes later, Ford pulled into the parking lot, straightened her sharp black dress and walked straight to the empty pier. A fresh flower and the last handwritten letter waited for her, with instructions to look up toward the restaurant’s balcony.
There, she caught a glimpse of Warn, looking dapper on this Monday evening. With letter and flower in hand, she entered the restaurant and, a minute later, emerged on the balcony.
Inside, more than 100 chatty diners had no clue what was taking place in their midst. Outside, the setting sun glowed over the lake as a timely song played on the restaurant’s outdoor speakers, “If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot.
The young lovers exchanged a glance, a few words, and then Warn got down on one knee to profess his love and propose. A ring emerged. She cried. He smiled. They hugged.
“Smile for the camera, you lovebirds!” Krause yelled from the pier.
“Congratulations!” Hoyle yelled with a smile.
My fiancée and I also wanted to yell “Congratulations!” from underneath the balcony, but we figured a surprise newspaper column would be even better as an engagement gift.
Congrats and good luck, Adam and Alyssa. May your relationship be as smooth sailing as your marriage proposal that magical night.
Connect with Jerry via email, at email@example.com, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.