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 In the News

     Article Launched: 01/22/2006 03:01:38 AM 

Up,up and away
Couple renew vows 
in hot-air balloon

For the Daily Record/Sunday News 

    Jan 22, 2006 — Dorothy Steele is usually the tricky one in the family. But Charles - her husband of 55 years - recently got the best of her. It took a lot of planning and colorful storytelling on his part, but Charles gave her the surprise of a lifetime.
    The East Manchester Township couple were married Oct. 14, 1950.
    Last October, Charles asked Dorothy to marry him again. She agreed, but had no idea her husband was plotting to have their wedding take place mid-flight in a hot-air balloon.
    Charles and their daughter, Donna Bupp of Mount Wolf, spent a lot of time on the phone planning the event and chose York-based AE Balloon Flights to pilot their ceremony. Bupp made excuses, saying she needed to talk to her dad, when she called and Dorothy answered. Once, Bupp disguised her voice and pretended to be Charles' ailing friend.
    "I just wanted to surprise her," Charles said.
    To pull off the surprise in October, Charles invited Dorothy to a picnic with his former co-worker. But wind conditions prevented the balloon flight, so Charles told Dorothy the co-worker suddenly took sick and canceled the picnic.
    "Balloons only go one way and that's whichever way the wind takes you," Charles said.
    Charles rescheduled the balloon flight for the first Saturday morning in November. He needed a new story to give Dorothy as an excuse to get her to the launch site. So he invited her out for ice cream in Hallam. Sounded good, she thought, but asked, "At 6 a.m.? Is Mack's even open that early?" Nonetheless, she fell for it.
    "I was so gullible," she said.
    Mack's was indeed closed, so the couple sat in their parked car near a pavilion. Charles said to Dorothy, "Remember when I asked you recently if you would marry me again?"
    Sure she did. And it all started coming together in her mind - Charles was up to something.
    "He had this funny grin on his face," she said. Then a truck drove by hauling a hot-air balloon. Then the couple's minister arrived. Then the Steele's daughters. Charles opened the trunk of their car and pulled out warmer clothes and boots for Dorothy and a camcorder.
    "We were going over the Susquehanna River when we renewed our vows," Dorothy said of her first balloon flight. "I wasn't scared because I'm kind of game to do that kind of stuff ... I was sort of dumbfounded the whole way through this." "The basket was a couple feet off the river and at this time we were exchanging our vows," Charles said. The Rev. Thomas Krape had to stop talking at times due to the noise of the flames. The balloon operator radioed to family and friends on the ground below, "She said, 'Yes' again."
    Dorothy said she's still amazed Charles was successful in surprising her.
    "She said that that was the best and most surprised she's ever been in her life," Bupp said. "It's not like my Dad to plan something like that. It just kind of made it more neat."
    Dorothy loved the flight, she said, but missed their late son, Randy.
    "We never forget him," Charles said.
    The couple agreed that marriage has its ups and downs, but they've always worked together and shared faith in God to get through the tough spots.
    "You cannot be self-centered. You've got to give and take," Dorothy said. Charles agreed.
    "It's not a one-way street," he said. "Today, people give up too quick. They don't work their problems out."

Credit: York Daily Record
Copyright © York Daily Record 2006
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