The Bon Secours St. Francis Festival of Trees is a must-do holiday tradition for families in the Greenville, SC area. And this year, it even served as the ideal backdrop for what some might call a “Hallmark moment.”
“In this crazy world, you never get a good old-fashioned love story. This is just a happy occasion, and God knows the world needs them,” Michele Rossi shares.
The love story she’s referring to is the one between Chandler Ollila and her daughter, Casey. The couple met in March 2020, courtesy of Casey’s brother.
“My older brother is very protective,” Casey says. “If a guy even looks at me or breathes in my direction, he’s like ‘absolutely not.’ Then one day he was like ‘You have to meet this guy, Chandler – he’s awesome,’ and I was like if you’re saying it, he’s either a total weirdo or he’s the man of my dreams.”
Luckily for Casey, it turned out to be the latter. Chandler not only decided to propose at our St. Francis Festival of Trees, but he involved Casey’s holiday-loving family in the planning process.
“Nobody is more excited than me, except maybe my daughter … who doesn’t even know it yet! She has no idea,” Michele laughed during the weeks of planning that lead up to the big surprise.
When Dec. 10 arrived, Chandler took Casey out for a seemingly normal Friday night date, while her family was adding a special “ornament” to one of the trees featured inside the Hyatt Regency hotel.
“Our kids are Greenville born and raised, so they love the downtown area and they have wonderful memories of being here,” Ron Rossi, Casey’s dad, shares. “The Festival of Trees that Bon Secours does is always awesome every year and it was a perfect setting, perfect time.”
A tradition dating back decades, Casey wasn’t at all surprised when Chandler suggested a festive stroll through the trees. But she had no clue they were approaching “the perfect tree” where her mom had just moments before stashed an engagement ring – that is, until Chandler dropped to one knee.
“It was definitely the craziest moment of my life,” Chandler recalls, who was just grateful to have pulled off the surprise without a hitch. “I guess I was good at composing myself, but I was nervous the entire time.”
Turns out, he had nothing to be nervous about because it didn’t take more than a few seconds for him to get the answer he’d been hoping to hear.
“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness – finally!’” Casey says. “He’s the man of my dreams, and I’m so thankful for him and I can’t wait to be his wife.”
The happy couple doesn’t plan on letting go of this Christmas tradition anytime soon, saying they hope to spend next holiday season saying “I do.”
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