UTICA, N.Y. – A Utica couple will always remember seeing the comet NEOWISE, not only because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but because it was also the backdrop to their engagement.
John Nicotera proposed to his now-fiancé, Erica Pendrak, on Saturday while they were at McCauley Mountain in Old Forge, getting a closer look at the comet.
“I went out looking for a comet that night and came home with a fiancé -- blew her mind away, she had no clue,” he said.
Nicotera posted photos of the proposal on Twitter, tagging NASA and SpaceX, which garnered national attention.
— John Nicotera (@YohnnyNic) July 19, 2020
The tweet was retweeted by The Weather Channel and ABC News meteorologist, Ginger Zee, among more than 1,000 others. The tweet was also liked more than 7,000 times.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) July 21, 2020
The couple, who are both teachers in the area, were planning a vacation to Portland in July, but had to cancel because of coronavirus. Nicotera said he was going to propose during the trip, but had to come up with a plan B, which ended up being a total surprise to Pendrak.
“He got down on one knee, and I was completely shocked -- tears and everything,” said Pendrak.
Another couple came along to McCauley Mountain with them, and took the photos of the moment that went viral.
And, of course, she said ‘yes.’
— Erica Lee (@Erica_lee_10) July 20, 2020