KEARNEY, Neb. — When Jake Thomsen proposed to Julie Cooke, he let a billboard do the talking.
Thomsen, 32, of Kearney surprised his girlfriend of nearly three years with a billboard on East Highway 30 near Cabela’s that read, “Julie will you marry me?”
Thomsen, who worked with billboards when he was employed with USA Outdoor, had always wanted to propose to Cooke, 28, originally from Orange County, Calif., with a billboard.
“I have been planning on doing it for quite a while,” Thomsen said. “I kind of threw the idea together at the last minute. I decided it was time because her family was going to be in town from California.”
After talking to Cooke’s family, Thomsen had an old billboard painted with his question and put it in place himself in the rain and wind on April 27.
On April 28, the couple headed out on Highway 30 to Cabela’s with Cooke’s family, Thomsen’s daughter, Estella, 7, and the couple’s son, Hank, 10 months. As the vehicle neared the sign he pulled over, telling Cooke the car’s brakes were acting up.
After the couple stepped out of the car, Thomsen got down on one knee and told Cooke to look up. Cooke said she couldn’t believe what she was seeing when she caught sight of the billboard.
“I went through all the emotions I had in, like, 30 seconds. I was shocked. I was crying. I was happy. I was just so excited. I was mainly shocked,” she said.
After she accepted Thomsen’s proposal, the couple made their planned trip to Cabela’s and went fishing. After returning home, Thomsen surprised his fiancee with a dinner at Grandpa’s Steak House.
“I got (our families) all together and had them get to Grandpa’s Steak House when we got there. They all had parked on the side so she didn’t know they were there,” Thomsen said.
The two tentatively plan to marry in Las Vegas in August so both families can attend.