|Josh Volpenhein and Erinn Thompson, at the end of this year's parade.|
Near the end of this year's Fourth of July parade, something unexpected happened. The parade came to a halt. Highlands Middle School dancers began a choreographed dance. A shocked dance coach realized her life was about to change. And a man proposed.
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This fall Erinn Thompson will begin her fourth season with the Highlands dance program. She spent her first three years coaching the junior varsity team—she moves into the varsity position this year.
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"Dance has always been a big part of Erinn's life," says Josh Volpenhein, Thompson's fiancé. "When thinking of a way to propose I knew I wanted to incorporate something that means so much to her. With the Fort Thomas parade coming up it was the perfect opportunity to not only include the dance program but easily hide friends and family members in the crowd without her suspecting anything."
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Volpenhein contacted Highlands Middle School coach, Cat Watson. Watson came up with the choreography, and taught it to Volpenhein. Watson also sent out an email to all the dance parents, which included the music and choregraphy so the dancers were able to learn it at home.
"Pulling this off was definitely a group effort!" Volpenhein says. "I was thankful to have a supportive group of parents willing to capture the moment, and of course the dancers who made me look a little more coordinated than I actually am. Everything went off without a hitch, we had great weather, and friends and family were able to come share in the moment." Volpenhein says he was also pleased that Erinn was completely oblivious.
"I was beyond shocked," Thompson says. "I think Josh would agree he pretty much had me programmed in thinking that an engagement was nowhere in the near future." Just recently Thompson told a friend that Volpenhein mentioned he could see them getting engaged in a year or so. "I was so excited just to be hearing that! Little did I know it would be just three days later."
|Dance Coach Cat Watson helped with the choreography. |
Thompson says when he saw Volpenhein getting the girls ready to do the choregraphed dance, she thought he was trying to get them together to take a picture with him, "which I thought was super weird," she says. "Once he shooed me back and began his dance moves my heart dropped, and I immediately realized what was about to happen. I am still trying to wrap my brain around the whole event. It just seemed so surreal."
|After the choreographed dance, Josh Volpenhein proposed.|
|She said yes!|
Once Thompson began realizing what was happening, she say four of her best friends out of the corner of her eye. "Michelle Stoll, Mollie Beck, Alysse Tretter and Julie Stoll were all there, tears and all, standing next to me as Josh began to make his way toward me," she says. "In the crowd came both of our parents, his brother and sister-in-law, our roommate Donavan Washington, and a few more good friends who I thought were just there to enjoy the parade!"
|Friends and family were hidden in the parade crowd to watch the event.|
Megan (Arnzen) Krieg (the Arnzen family owns The Olde Fort Pub) witnessed the proposal. "It was really neat," she says. "Chills! Lots of cheering and tears around from all the romantic-hearted people."
Campbell County Sheriff Mike Jansen watched it unfold and said it was a "new twist this year at the parade."
|The couple have been together for three years.|
Thompson grew up in Lexington, KY. She moved to northern Kentucky in 2009 to attend Northern Kentucky University (NKU). She graduated with a bachelors degree in elementary education and this fall she will begin her second year teaching first grade in Covington.
Volpenhein grew up in Covington. He graduated from Holy Cross High School in 2009, and from NKU in 2014 with a bachelors degree in exercise science. He then received his masters in healthcare administration from University of Kentucky in 2016. He most recently worked with the electronic health record system at Baptist Health in Lexington.
The couple started dating three years ago. "Oddly enough we shared a class together our first year of college, but it wouldn't be until four years later that we really met," Thompson says. Over the years the couple ran into each other. Volpenhein worked at NKU's Campus Recreation Center and Thompson was a member of NKU's dance team. Volpenhein often check Thompson into the gym as she headed to practice. "In the summer of 2013 my roommate had invited him over with a few other friends for a cookout and we hit it off," Thompson says. "Soon after he asked me on our first date, and here we are, three years later!"
No wedding plans have been made yet. "At the moment I think we are definitely just enjoying being engaged," Thompson says. "I think it will still take a few more days for it to settle in that we are actually engaged. I honestly couldn't have imagined a more perfect proposal from a more perfect man. Every time I look over and see him next to me I am reminded of how unbelievably luck I am."