Decorated pumpkin helps boyfriend pop question

Julie Cortes had no idea how long it would take to find the perfect pumpkin Saturday at Schaake's Pumpkin Patch east of Lawrence.

Cortes' boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, Chris Rohr, just wanted to make sure she found his version of the perfect pumpkin.

It was the one Rohr had secretly had decorated with the special message: "Will you marry me?"

A Topeka native, Rohr had come to the patch at 1791 N. 1500 Road every fall as a child with his family. He loved the patch and knew it would be a perfect place to pop the question.

"One of our first dates we came to the pumpkin patch," Rohr said. "It kind of made sense to come back here."

Since Rohr lives in Lincoln, Neb., he phoned patch owner Janet Schaake on Thursday and enlisted her help to pull off the stunt. Schaake's daughter carved and decorated the glitter-adorned pumpkin.

"We've painted pumpkins for weddings before," Janet Schaake said. "But never this."

At 2 p.m. Saturday, Rohr brought Cortes on their pumpkin patch date. The "Will you marry me?" pumpkin had been planted on a wagon between two scarecrows.

Schaake knew exactly who Rohr was when he arrived at the patch.

"I saw this guy make a beeline to the concession stand," Schaake said. "And I said, 'Oh that's him.'"

Cortes, of Overland Park, had helped Rohr design an engagement ring, a nontraditional, tanzanite-and-diamond creation, so Cortes knew that the big day could be soon. For six weeks, though, she had waited for the proposal.

It didn't take long once they arrived Saturday.

"He dragged me straight to it," Cortes said.

Rohr feared another woman might think the pumpkin was hers.

"I was doing the other single guys a favor," he said.

Cortes immediately accepted the proposal.

Both Kansas University graduates, the couple met through a volleyball league in Kansas City. The two didn't know when exactly the wedding will take place.

Eventually, the couple plan to move together, but preserving their pumpkin seemed to be their biggest worry Saturday.

"There is just so much bad in the world," Schaake said. "I just thought this was so wonderful."

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