OUR NEIGHBOURS: Pulling off a surprise engagement turns out to be a walk in the park | Lifestyles






David Schneider, 29, of Richardson, Texas, drops to his knees to ask for Lauren Ellis’s hand in marriage during a surprise engagement proposal Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, on the observation deck at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in plan. There recording the event in photos for the couple was Katherine Lopez.




Like many of you over the past two years, my wife, Elizabeth and I have found a much needed escape from the world around us in the beautiful local parks and outdoor recreation spaces that dot the landscape of the Metroplex.

You can only walk the same streets and sidewalks in your neighborhood, and the dozens of parks in our area offer a variety of activities for the adventurous and docile. One of our family’s favorite outdoor getaways is the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, located off the coast of West Parker Rd in Plano.

Located on the western border of Plano, Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a 200-acre park featuring vast areas of natural beauty for walking, jogging, hiking, orienteering, and other outdoor activities. The reserve has a natural biofilter to clean surface runoff from the car park before it re-enters groundwater. The observation tower offers a spectacular view of the city.






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David Schneider, 29, of Richardson, surprised Lauren Ellis, 23, of Belton, Texas, with an engagement proposal on the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve observation deck on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Plano. David proved that a surprise engagement proposal really is as easy as a walk in the park.




So this Saturday, with the sun shining and abnormally hot temperatures for January, I decided to burn some calories and stress and grab my camera for a walk around the reserve. It’s been several months since I last visited, and the beauty of nature is a little tempered during the winter months with the leafless tree and the green in varying shades of brown instead of green .

What I love about Arbor Hills is that you can stay on the paved walkways or venture into the woods on marked dirt trails so you can find your way. The trails offer a little more isolation from the crowds, while those who want a bit more of a stable walking surface will be more comfortable on paved paths, but you’ll have to dodge people, pets, and the cyclists.

The characteristics of the park a designated off-road bike path (approximately 2.8 miles), unpaved nature trails for pedestrians only – open dawn to dusk (approximately 3 miles), and a paved recreational trail (approximately 3 miles).

But my favorite feature of the park is the observation deck, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the park. It was while walking towards the observation deck that I came across a group of four young men, who were pacing around the entrance.

“Would you mind if we kept the bridge closed for a few minutes,” one asked as I approached. “My friend is going to propose to his girlfriend.”

Of course, that didn’t bother me. In fact, even better, I wanted to see if I could surprise both the groom and bride-to-be with a little media coverage of the event. A few minutes later, one of the groom’s friends said to the others, “They’re coming, one minute.”

And then came David Schneider and Lauren Ellis. David, 29, is a resident of Richardson, Texas, and Lauren, 23, is from Belton, Texas. They met while serving together in youth ministry at Watermark Community Church.

David and Lauren entered the viewing deck, walked down the long wooden deck and waited for Lauren at a table with flowers and a Bible. David then turned to Lauren, knelt down and asked the question.

And, of course, Lauren said yes. A photographer friend of theirs, Katherine Lopez, was there to document it all, along with a local newspaper and news website owner who just happened to drop by on a random Saturday morning.

David and Lauren were kind enough to let me talk to him as well and share their love story with you. And my favorite little nugget they shared was not only Saturday, January 22, 2022, their engagement day, it was also the first day they said they loved each other.

“We waited to say those words to each other until we knew they meant forever,” Lauren said. “And now they do. He loves me and I love him.”

And I love finding stories like David and Lauren’s to share with you.

We have learned many lessons from this decade in just a few years. Life is too short. Don’t take life for granted. Love thy neighbor.

And take the time to enjoy the outdoors and enjoy our great parks and nature reserves. You never know what you’ll find, maybe even pulling off a surprise engagement really is as easy as a walk in the park.

Congratulations on your engagement, David and Lauren!

Rick Rogers is president and publisher of Star Local Media and its 14 print and digital publications. Have a story or experience to share, email your suggestions to Rick Rogers, President and Publisher of Star Local Media at [email protected]