Hundreds of people gathered at Vulcan Park for the solar eclipse Monday, armed with special glasses to view this rare happening.
But Jeffrey Payne, 27, had other plans.
As the eclipse reached its full effect over Birmingham, people clapped and cheered. One family stretched in a line on the grass wearing their eclipse glasses. Another family stood there in awe. Millions across the country peeked upward, from Oregon to South Carolina, for the once-in-a-lifetime event.
But Payne’s knees were shaking, excited for what could be his own once-in-a-lifetime event.
He reached in his pocket, grabbed an engagement ring and dropped to one knee to propose to Baylie Kizziah, 23.
She said yes.
Payne, of Alexander City, had been thinking about this proposal for a few days.
“It seemed it would be the perfect time,” he said. “Her mom and best friend said it would be a great idea. We have been talking about getting engaged, but she had no idea. It was a sweet and rare thing and something that doesn’t happen that often. I played ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ during the proposal, her favorite song.”
His fiancée was still surprised minutes after the proposal.
“I am still in shock and very excited, I cannot wait to start planning,” Kizziah said.
She now has two reasons to forever remember Aug. 21.
“I was in complete shock, I never expected it,” Kizziah said. “Oh my God, I should have known. He asked me to dress up and be his arm candy. It’s finally hitting me, finally sinking in, I am just excited. I thought the eclipse was perfect. It doesn’t happen very often.”
The two have known each other for more than two years. Kizziah hopes to travel to Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
“We will eventually go to Nashville to make it happen,” she said. “You gotta dream, right?”
After Payne placed the ring on Kizziah’s finger and she said yes, the sky began to lighten up again, perhaps a sign of good things to come.