The sign said closed, but she said yes. A Pacific Beach man popped the big question outside a closed Ocean Beach Pier, a spot the couple knows all too well.
Chelsea Acker and Thomas Carey have been dating for two-and-a-half years, and even though the Ocean Beach Pier has been shut down for weeks due to damage from large waves, the two got engaged outside the closed gates.
It was Friday, June 24, 2016. Chelsea and Thomas were on their first date along the historic waterfront.
“We were early for our dinner reservations and I said, ‘Let’s go take a little stroll,’” Chelsea said.
So, the two walked up and down the pier, getting to know each other.
“And ever since then, it’s been a special place,” Thomas said.
Fast-forwarding to Monday, just three days before Valentine’s Day, Thomas wanted to recreate the magic of their first date.
Working with a still-closed pier, Thomas decided to make the most of the space that was still open to the public.
“He said the next best thing is to go ahead and dress up the gate, and we’ll just go ahead and do it there,” said Jim Grant, the photographer who captured the special moment.
Thomas crosshatched dozens of red and white flowers across the Ocean Beach Fishing Pier gate. A large, white bouquet covered up a “pier closed” sign, and a row of flowers and leaves topped the barred gate.
When the couple arrived at the entrance, Chelsea was a little confused, shocked, and excited.
“I first thought someone – it was set up for someone to get married,” she told NBC 7. “I still didn’t really understand what was happening until he pulled me over to the gate.”
That’s when Thomas knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring.
“It was amazing,” Chelsea said. “And that’s when the tears started flowing.”
Chelsea said yes, and the moment was captured in time forever.
“I think he is going to be despised by a lot of guys, but she will be loved by a lot of women,” Jim told NBC 7.
On Tuesday, Thomas returned to the pier to clean up the hundreds of flowers twist-tied to the gate. He said he didn’t want the city to think he was littering.
The couple said if the pier is open in time for their wedding, they might hold their nuptials there.
“If it's a thing then we'll consider it. We can make it a thing,” Thomas said.
The Ocean Beach Pier has been closed since mid-January following damaging waves that ripped parts of its railing and wood paneling off.
These waves were reported to have reached 12 feet, as part of the King Tides that hit coastal San Diego cities.
King Tides are extremely high tides that occur every year, causing some problems to structures for residents and tourists alike.
“You can see the bluff and parts of the bluff are falling off,” one resident in the area told NBC 7. “You live this close to the water, you deal with the repercussions that come with it.”
The City of San Diego said it doesn’t know when the pier will be fixed, though it hoped to know the full extent of the damages by Sunday.
Though in rain, shine, or high tides, San Diego’s weather can’t stop Chelsea and Thomas’ love story.