Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — The WRAL Freedom Balloon Festival ended Monday, but for one Triangle couple, their memories from the event will last a lifetime.
Frankie Godwin and his girlfriend, Lindsey Dove, woke up extra early Saturday morning – 4:15 a.m. to be exact – to get ready and drive to Fleming Loop Recreational Park for the festival. They'd arranged to meet a pilot there, who would take them for a ride in a hot air balloon, enabling them both to cross an essential item off their bucket lists.
Lindsey, who, like Frankie, had been single for over 18 years before meeting the love of her life, had no idea what her creative boyfriend had in store for her. The two met 47 years ago while attending the same middle school in Calvert County and recently reconnected through a mutual friend.
"We even had crushes on each other back then," said Frankie.
As planned, Marc Klinger, the couple's hot air balloon pilot, met Lindsey and Frankie at the festival at 5:30 a.m. After waivers and paperwork were signed, the group traveled to a nearby launch site in a country field with the balloon and basket in tow.
Marc's hot air balloon crew set-up and filled the balloon with air and positioned the basket so the two could climb aboard. Moments later, the three were ascending into the sky and heavens.
Once Frankie and Lindsey were high in the air, his important speech began:
“I will stand in front of you to protect you, I will stand behind you to catch you if you ever fall and I will stand beside you as your partner and soul mate. I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
All it took was Lindsey excitedly saying, "Yes, yes, yes!" for Frankie's life to change.
"We both realize we are not promised tomorrow and we must embrace today," said Frankie. "Needless to say, we both were so happy and just very overtaken with the moment, as it was very special and wonderful."
As the couple floated higher into the clouds, they both reflected on loved ones that have passed away.
"We wondered what they were seeing from the heavens above as we felt them with us, especially Lindsey’s mother, father and Aunt Jerry," said Frankie.
We felt they were happy and smiling down on us."
About an hour later, Frankie, Lindsey and Marc landed safely approximately 10 miles from the festival site. After a champagne toast, the two traveled to Angier for lunch at their "go-to" country diner, Ed's, where the staff, aware of the proposal, greeted Lindsey excitedly with open arms.
Time with family members, flowers from Frankie and a romantic dinner at Second Empire concluded the incredible day that the couple will remember forever.
"I was not nervous at all about proposing marriage to Lindsey, as it was one of the most confident things I have ever done in my life," said Frankie.
While up in the balloon, it was very tranquil, and there was no sensation of being high off the ground or being afraid of heights. It was just wonderful."
The couple has not yet set a date for the wedding.