Unique ice castle built for marriage proposal in Gander

Romance rules in Gander, where one man went to extraordinary lengths and towering heights to propose to his sweetheart on Feb. 16.
She said yes! Jonathan Horng spent 33 days working on this ice castle, which he built in his back yard in Gander. (Photo courtesy Jonathan Horng )

A man in Gander spent 33 days freezing blocks of ice to build the perfect venue in his backyard, so that he could  propose to his sweetheart.

Jonathan Horng wanted a unique way to pop the question to his girlfriend Taylor Wood, adding that he'd been considering the move for a while.

This is what Day 1 looked like inside Jonathan Horng's house. (Jonathan Horng)

"So what I'd been doing since early January, I went to the local dollar store here in Gander and bought all the tubs that they had, and starting freezing blocks to build this ice castle to propose to her," Horng told CBC Radio's On The Go on Friday. 

His inspiration for the structure came from something he saw on Reddit a couple of years ago, where a man in western Canada built a castle for himself and his friends.

"I must have drawn from that. But even as I was freezing the blocks, I wasn't quite sure how I would build it ... I just improvised, really," he said.

Horng said the completed castle was fairly large, and it lasted for just 40 hours, before a spate of mild weather moved in.

The ice castle is coming along ... (Jonathan Horng)

"I had it for the two minutes I needed it for," he said.

"I'd say it was at least 12' x 12' in diameter, and in height maybe eight feet. I built it under the big tree in our back yard, and strung up some old white Christmas lights. It was beautiful ... and well worth it."

Horng said he hid the frozen blocks behind the shed, so Taylor wouldn't see what he was devising. A couple of weeks before proposal day, he got a reprieve.

"She then had a trip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where I was out five to eight hours every day building it," he said.

The ice castle's height is increasing ... (Jonathon Horng)

The proposal

Horng said he had everything planned, and on Feb. 16, the anticipation was building. Time to put the plan into action.

"We have an old dog, Frankie, she's turning 18 this month. I made this video where I put my arms in a sweater, and put Frankie through the neck of the sweater, as if Frankie had arms and could talk," said Horng.

I had it for the two minutes I needed it for.- Jonathan Horng

"Frankie was telling Taylor that she was getting old, and that she's hoping that I would take care of Taylor when she's gone."

As Taylor watched the video, she didn't realize that Jonathan had gone outside to light candles, turn on lights and play the music he'd prepared.

"So when she came out to the castle, we have a little bench set up in there, she sat on the bench. And I got down on one knee and proposed ... and she said yes."

Taylor said she was simply "giddy" about it all.

"I went outside in my slippers, with no coat, kind of poking around, calling his name ... and I saw some lights in the back yard and of course followed them," she said.

"And there was a beautiful castle with him standing there. It was amazing," she said.  

"I was very surprised — thrilled. I don't think I could wipe the smile off my face." 

The newly-engaged couple, Jonathan Horng and Taylor Wood. (Jonathan Horng)