This season’s jingle bells will soon turn into wedding bells for one local couple.
On Friday, Dec. 4, 26-year-old Alex Michalski got down on one knee in front of a crowd of onlookers at Santa Claus Lane in Clovis to propose to his girlfriend of three years, Danielle Ybarra, 24.
Michalski enlisted the help of Santa Claus Lane programmer Deb Toews, who set up a special light show to Mariah Carrey’s “All I want for Christmas is You,” at his request.
Michalski said he knew he would be proposing during the holiday since it would be easier to bring the family together without raising any suspicions. When he heard about Santa Claus Lane from his boss, who lives in that east Clovis neighborhood, he thought it would be the perfect setting for him to pop the big question.
“The idea was developed by my boss,” Michalski said. “I was brainstorming ideas with him and telling him I wanted to make it special and he told me about Santa Claus Lane. I went over to Santa Claus Lane and talked to Deb about setting something up…Danielle had no idea but she almost caught me because I came home late a few times since I was over there working out all the details and previewing the show. She thought I was going to propose on Christmas day.
“I knew I wanted to do it around family and mine lives in the Philippines so this is the time of year we are together. Most of the family didn’t know about the proposal ahead of time and thought we were just all going to see the lights and hang out. Her parents knew, though, because I asked their permission and some of my friends and my sister knew. A good 35-40 people from our family and friends were there.”
Toews said she was surprised when Michalski came to her door with his request and that she was honored to be a part of the couple’s special night.
“I was working at home and the doorbell rang and my daughter answered it and a young man was at the door asking for the person who was in charge of the Christmas lights,” Toews said. “My daughter called for me and I went to the door. I told Alex I was the one that is in charge of the light show and asked how I could help him. He told us that his boss sent him over to our house and that we did some kind of projection thing. We kind of went back and forth because I couldn’t understand why he was asking. Then he finally explains that he just went to his girlfriend’s house and asked her parents for permission to marry her and he wanted to do something special for his engagement.
“I was overwhelmed that this young man had the courage to come to my door and ask me to help him with his proposal! So I started to brain storm with him on what we could do. We have a video that plays of Santa in our control house but that wasn’t what he was thinking about. Then, bam, I tell him I can put pictures and words on the big silver tree and I could program it to do his proposal. Then all three of us (me, my daughter and him) were overwhelmed by the vision in our heads and got emotional. He hugged me really hard and said thank you.”
Toews said she exchanged numbers with Michalski and stayed in touch with him over the next two weeks as they prepared for the engagement. In that time, she said they sent several texts back and forth plotting the big night. When she let all her neighbors on Santa Claus Lane know about the plan, she said they had a similar emotional response to hers and were excited that someone chose to propose at their Christmas light show. A few even helped Toews program the big silver tree perfectly.
“I reached out to a friend of mine to help me with the programming and how I wanted it to look and we quickly got the programming done and I loaded it into the computer for review,” Toews said. “I had another friend set up to do video so we could capture the special event. Alex came a couple days prior and viewed the lights. He told me it made him nervous just to watch it. That was so cute!”
Michalski said he loved how it turned out
“They did a fantastic job,” he said.
As for how the proposal went, Ybarra, of course, said yes and now Michalski says both of them are still getting used to being betrothed.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Michalski said. “It still feels like a dream and we’re dazed. I got a priceless reaction from Danielle and it was so loud there I didn’t hear her say yes, but she did and made sure I knew that when we went back to the house. We’ll be sure to make a trip to Santa Claus Lane a tradition.”
Toews said she and her neighbors all wish Michalski and Ybarra the best.
“All of us at Clovis Festival of Lights are honored by this young man’s request and admire his courage to do what it takes to make his engagement extra special for Danielle,” Toews said. “We wish Alex and Danielle many years of happiness and thank them for allowing us to be a part of their special day!”
To view the video of the Santa Claus Lane proposal, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2PRwc2T3Lg&feature=youtu.be