Marriage proposal brings down house during singing competition in Houlton

Photo by Joseph Cyr, Houlton Pioneer Times
Drew Farrar, of Hodgdon proposed to his girlfriend, Haley Kuschman of Illinois, during the Northern Star singing competition on Sunday, March 3, 2013, at the Houlton Community Arts Center.

HOULTON, Maine — Asking the woman of your dreams to marry you in a public setting has been done in number of creative ways.

Some choose to pop the question at major sporting events through the use of jumbo screens. Others look to the skies for a skywriter to spell out the proposal. And some have taken out full-page ads in local newspapers to ask their question.

Now you can add the United Way of Aroostook’s Northern Star singing competition to that list.

Drew Farrar, the son of Vaughn and Shelly Farrar of Hodgdon, used the stage of the Houlton Community Arts Center during the Northern Star competition Sunday afternoon to ask his girlfriend Haley Kuschman to be his bride.

Farrar took to the stage when contestant Tyler Rowe’s name was announced and went into an elaborate discussion on how Rowe said he couldn’t perform and asked Drew to take his place.

“There are some people counting on this song in the crowd, and he said ‘Can you take my spot?’” Drew explained to the audience.

Farrar then broke into song, channeling his best Angela Lansbury, to sing the Disney classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” which is one of Kuschman’s favorite movies. Midway into the song he stated he needed some help and brought her onto the stage. Farrar then asked the sound booth to switch to a different song and he started crooning the Bruno Mars song, “Marry You,” before dropping to one knee to make his proposal.

Kuschman accepted the proposal.

“We have been planning this for weeks,” said Claudia Stevens, executive director of the United Way of Aroostook and co-host for the singing competition. “All of the girls backstage are crying right now.”

Co-host Jason Parent said he may have felt more nervous than Farrar and asked if the couple would be willing to come back and get married on the stage next year.

“We could arrange for that,” Parent joked.

A middle school basketball coach in the Bangor area, Farrar said he had been thinking of some creative way to propose for about five weeks prior to Sunday’s event.

Farrar is a 2007 graduate of Houlton High School — he spent several years at Greater Houlton Christian Academy before transferring his senior year to Houlton — and a 2011 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. It was at the university in Marion, Ind., that he met Kuschman and the couple have been dating for the past two years.

“Drew’s proposal was pretty special,” his mother said.

Initially Drew thought of using the stage at the high school to create a “Beauty and the Beast,” princess castle-type setting for his proposal. But he was told that the Northern Star competition was taking place that weekend and he would need to call organizers to see when the auditorium would be available.

“In making the call, Claudia asked Drew if he ever thought of doing his proposal at the competition,” Shelly Farrar said. “He ended up saying, ‘Let’s go for it’ and they ran with it from there. Haley was truly surprised.”

“Drew said he wanted to come to this show and I thought it sounded fun,” Kuschman said. “I had absolutely no idea this is what he had planned.”