Pandemic Proposals: San Diego Rocker Proposes With Great-Grandma's Ring She Got During 1918 Flu

Musician Scott Szikla of the San Diego bands Ready Set Survive and Weatherbox makes a pandemic proposal

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After nearly six weeks of stay-at-home orders, we've all seen how people who had plans for weddings pivot to livestreams, but what if you were waiting to pop the question when this all went down?

For San Diego musician and A/V tech Scott Szikla, it was a no-brainer that he was going to ask his girlfriend of three years, Elena Blanco-Suarez, for her hand in marriage.

Szikla had originally resigned himself to proposing to Blanco-Suarez in their apartment, but when he saw that the city of San Diego had lifted some restrictions on parks, he seized the moment.

Coordinating with two friends who live around the corner from them, a plan was set into motion to pop the question at their neighborhood park, Bird Park.

On Friday, their friends provided a sanitized picnic basket of champagne, hand sanitizer, wipes and a blanket, while also carefully asking people in the park to give them a little space for the big moment.

“We were out for a walk, and people were definitely watching us, and she was getting a little chilly and suggested returning home," Szikla said. "She saw the basket and thought the space was reserved for someone else, but then I dropped to one knee and popped the question."

The couple's friends were hiding off in the bushes to capture photos of the big moment, eventually joining them to celebrate -- from a distance, of course.

Needless to say, Blanco-Suarez said yes.

Szikla shared an interesting sidenote to their story: "Since all jewelers are closed right now, I got ahold of my great-grandmother’s ring to hand over. It was actually given to her during the 1918 Flu pandemic. Fast-forward 100 years later and this is happening. Weird timing."

While hoping for a September wedding, Szikla and Blanco-Suarez are going to plan optimistically but act realistically. Blanco-Suarez is originally from Oviedo, a town in northern Spain, so they hope to be able to travel and share their joy with her family, too.

“If gatherings are limited to 10 people, then we'll have 10 weddings,” Szikla said, laughing.

“No, no, no! I'm definitely not doing that,” Blanco-Suarez replied.

The couple said that if they have to wait until 2021 for a full-blown affair, so be it.

“We're just trying to remain positive and as hopeful as we can,” Szikla said.

In the meantime, Szikla has been furloughed from his day job as an audio-visual technician; for her part, Blanco-Suarez is returning to work this week at the Salk Institute, where she is a neuroscientist.

The happy couple!

As for music, Szikla hasn't played with Weatherbox for some time, but he's excited about his other projects, including Ready Set Survive, which is nominated for a 2020 San Diego Music Award for Best Indie/Alternative Album, and Nights Like Thieves, which is nominated in the general Best Indie/Alternative category.

“We're debuting a new track featuring Sonny (Sandoval) of P.O.D. on Sunday, May 3, on (91X) Loudspeaker,” Szikla said.

For the past several weeks, the locally-produced radio show featuring local artists has been broadcasting with SoundDiego contributor Tim Pyles in the studio while simultaneously being joined by co-hosts Lou Niles and Andrew Rowley via Zoom, with the show also being livestreamed on Facebook.

Life in the quarantine certainly has changed our expectations and capabilities, but one thing rings true: Love always finds a way.

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