RACINE -- As Jason Zygowski waved to the crowds along the pre-parade route Monday morning, there was a little extra sparkle on his right index finger.
Around his finger, only sliding down as far as the base of his nail, was a diamond engagement ring. Somewhere in that crowd was his girlfriend, Christy Adams. The ring belonged with her.
The fire engine crawled along the parade route, turned left onto Main Street from Goold, and headed south, toward the end of the parade, and toward Christy.
Jason, 31, looked out the window and waved, smiling a little at the early-morning crowd, then he sat back in his seat and let out a big sigh. He was nervous.
"I'm getting nervous," he said. "I didn't think I would be."
Christy, 34, was watching for his truck from a chair in front of Don & Dale's Service, 1338 N. Main St., with her two daughters. All she expected was a wave. Maybe a kiss blown from the window of the fire truck. He'd gotten up early with her and the girls, helped them pick a good parade spot, set up the chairs. They went out for breakfast, then he went to work and they went to the parade.
Jason and Christy started dating July 3, 2004. Christy told Jason she had one requirement: She wouldn't date someone longer than a year unless he planned to marry her. A week ago Jason asked for an extension. She gave it to him, but on their anniversary she was still hoping for a ring and that question.
They went out for dinner Sunday and they went to the Vintage Rock Cafe, where they met, but it was closed.
As the fire truck got closer, Jason leaned out to look at the street signs. High Street, then St. Patrick, then Barker, where Christy was. He gave instructions to the driver through a headset.
The engine pulled over, confusing the crowd.
He jumped out the door, got down on one knee, and asked, without hesitation: "Will you marry me?" The crowd cheered.
"I love you," Christy said.
They kissed, tenderly, in front of the hundreds of people there to watch the parade.
"Yes," Christy said.
Jason gave her the ring. He got another kiss, then back in the truck he went.
As the truck pulled away he leaned out the window again and blew her that kiss.