Autumn is officially in full swing, which means Penn State’s annual Homecoming Weekend is quickly approaching. But for alumna Kelsey Stidd, Homecoming holds an extra special place in her heart — the 2013 celebration unexpectedly introduced her to her future fiancée.
Stidd joined Penn State’s Tapestry Dance Company almost immediately after beginning her freshman year at Penn State. She became heavily involved with the organization right away; by the time she was an upperclassman, she led the organization when it paired up with Theta Chi Fraternity to decorate a Homecoming float.
During the week, alumni from both orgs came to Happy Valley to help the current members with the float. Enter spring 2013 graduate David Stoltzfus. The groups got together at Theta Chi’s house the Thursday evening before Homecoming Weekend to prepare for the celebration ahead. Little did Stidd know that after Stoltzfus saw her for the first time, he immediately knew he had to get to know her.
“As the night went on, we ended up working on the same part of the float, David handing me pieces of tissue paper as I decorated,” Stidd said. “We started talking, sharing details about our lives and getting to know each other (later to find out that we both grew up in Lancaster County and that my grandma knows David’s mom).”
Suddenly, rain began to pour, and Stidd and Stoltzfus ran inside to join everyone else. Once the weather finally improved, they got back to work and pomped the float into the early hours of the morning. By the time Stidd had to leave to get some rest, she knew her connection with Stoltzfus was something special. But there was one problem — they never exchanged contact information.
The next day, Stidd and the rest of Tapestry danced in the Homecoming Parade behind the moving float. In the middle of her performance, she suddenly spotted Stoltzfus in the audience, and her feelings from the night before immediately returned.
“At one point, I found David in the crowd and I admit to trying to show off a bit for him,” Stidd said.
Much to the joy of both orgs, Tapestry and Theta Chi ended up winning the competition for best Homecoming float. After the event was over, Stidd and the rest of Tapestry returned to Theta Chi to celebrate, and it wasn’t long before Stidd finally ran into Stoltzfus once again.
“We spent that evening at Theta Chi getting to know each other more,” Stidd said. “David gave me a ride home and finally got my number.”
By the time Sunday rolled around, Stoltzfus had to return home to Washington, D.C. However, they both had a gut feeling they would see each other again soon. After Stoltzfus returned to Happy Valley the following weekend, they knew their connection was something real, and they continued to see each other whenever possible.
As the clock struck midnight on New Years’ Eve of that year, Stoltzfus finally asked Stidd to be his girlfriend. For the next few years, the couple’s relationship consisted of plenty of phone calls and visits, as both Stidd and Stoltzfus hopped around from place to place. Shortly after Stidd’s graduation during the summer of 2013, the pair actually moved to Seattle together for two years. Unfortunately, they had to split once again when they both accepted new positions in different cities. However, the pair was finally able to leave challenges of a long distance relationship behind when they both accepted jobs in Philadelphia. The couple has since adopted a 12-week-old puppy together named Finn.
Shortly after the move, Stolzfus took Stidd back to Penn State — it had been far too long since they visited their alma mater. On Friday night, the couple left the Nittany Lion Inn to walk downtown, and Stoltzfus insisted they pass Old Main. But what Stidd didn’t know is that Stoltzfus was about to take the next step in their relationship.
Once they reached the side of the building, Stoltzfus got down on one knee and ask Stidd to marry him.
“After I said yes between sobs, David informed me that he had hired a photographer who got it all on film,” Stidd said. “We spent the next 45 minutes taking our engagement pictures around campus before going to dinner at Spats. It was all a total surprise for me.”
The couple plans to marry next summer in Lancaster, and they are forever grateful for their spontaneous Homecoming meeting years ago.
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