Michaela Neu was in disbelief when an announcer said she and her boyfriend Steve Kemper were the winners of a raffle at the Northwest Fourth-Fest in Hoffman Estates Thursday night.
"When we were going up (to the stage) I was like, 'Steve, we never win anything!'" Neu said.
The 27-year-old was ecstatic as Kemper was handed the raffle prize in a box, thinking they had won a vacation.
But Kemper suddenly got down on one knee and opened the box, revealing an engagement ring.
With hundreds of festival attendees looking on, Neu, of Iowa, said "yes" as her boyfriend of two years asked her to marry him.
"I was really, really surprised," she said. "They had me really fooled."
Kemper, 23, of Streamwood, said he had been planning the proposal with the help of his father, Hanover Park village Trustee James Kemper, for almost a year.
"I don't think I've ever seen her that surprised in her life," Kemper said of Neu's reaction.
The two met in California when Kemper came back from a deployment in the Marines. They shared their first kiss on the Fourth of July in 2011, which is why Kemper decided to propose Thursday.
Despite the significance of the date, the presence of many family members and friends, and the suspicion that Kemper would propose soon, Neu was still stunned.
"It was a nice surprise," she said. "The ring's beautiful. Everything was way better than I expected."
Kemper and Neu said the crowd cheered as the proposal occurred and many people offered their congratulations afterward.
The couple said they plan to get married about two years from now, after Kemper finishes schooling to become a firefighter.