OAKLAND (AP) – When Joe Hunter decided to propose to Celena Caron, he wasn’t shy about letting the world know about it.

Hunter took out a $572 quarter-page ad in the Thursday edition of the Morning Sentinel in Waterville to profess his love for Caron and ask her to marry him. The gesture drew the attention of the newspaper’s staff, and an article on the proposal ran on the front-page. But that meant that Hunter had to scramble to make sure she saw the ad before she saw the story.

“I started reading the paper, and when I saw (the ad), I started crying. I turned around to ask him a question, and there he was behind me, with the ring. …I’m ecstatic.”

By then, relatives, friends and radio and television media had picked up the story, and the phone calls began to stream in.

Hunter and Caron, both 33, met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend nearly five years ago. They’ve been together since.

Both want to get married in a small ceremony on Popham Beach, one of their favorite places. Both have been married once before; he has a daughter, and she has a son and two daughters.

“She’s done the big church thing, and so have I,” Hunter said. “We wanted something small and romantic.”

When Hunter went to the newspaper on Tuesday, he wanted to buy a full-page ad. But that cost $1,600 and he settled for the smaller one.

The ad included the lyrics to Jim Brickman’s song “Love of my Life” and the words “Will you marry me?”

Hunter felt some relief after she said yes.

“I feel really good – I feel happy,” Hunter said. “It went as planned. It worked out good.”

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