February 26, 2013 at 6:40 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - As a longtime lover of Turtle Back Zoo, my girlfriend, Raquel Fernandes from Lyndhurst, expected to spend a casual afternoon visiting the animals. Little did she know that there was a surprise for her in her favorite exhibit, the Reptile House.
I had bigger plans in store for my girlfriend of seven years. As a West Orange native, I grew up visiting the zoo and still go pretty frequently with Raquel. She has also become a die-hard Turtle Back Zoo fan, and particularly loves the Komodo Dragon. I knew the time was right to pop the question, and I could think of no better place than doing it at the Zoo.
Komodo Dragon on display at the Zoo Credit: Turtle Back Zoo
I got in touch with Turtle Back Zoo, and they decided to go in on the plan with me. After much organizing, the big day had arrived. Once Raquel and I entered the Reptile House, one of the zookeepers asked us if we wanted to see a “new off-exhibit Komodo Dragon.” This scaly dragon was actually my brother, Dan Manzo also from West Orange, dressed as the reptile, holding a sign that asked, “Will you marry me?”
I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me right there in front of Turtle Back Zoo’s Komodo Dragon, and she, looking shocked, said yes.
“This is surreal. I totally wasn’t expecting this!” said the bride-to-be after the exciting event.
Dan Manzo, dressed as the reptile, V.J. Manzo, kneeling and Raquel Fernandes Credit: Turtle Back Zoo
For further information:
Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052