Tunnel of Love: Man Proposes to Girlfriend in Pitch Black Museum Exhibit
"It was surreal being inside there and having that happen in one of those places that was so scary and frightening," ToniAnne Barone said.
Anything can happen in the dark, but the last thing this New Jersey woman expected was a proposal.
ToniAnne Barone, 29, was feeling her way through a pitch black exhibit at Jersey City's Liberty Science Center with her boyfriend of three years when the lights suddenly came on.
She then saw her boyfriend, Vincent Brandonisio, 29, knelt down in front of her, holding a ring in his hand.
"He asked if I would marry him, and I said, 'Of course,'" she told InsideEdition.com.
Barone said that until the moment Brandonisio popped the question, she had always been terrified of the Touch Tunnel exhibit at the science museum.
When she was a kid, she remembered being on a school field trip with her classmates, and having a panic attack while inside the 80-foot-long, pitch black crawl-through tunnel.
"When I was a kid, I completely panicked in the Touch Tunnel," Barone told InsideEdition.com. "One of the workers had to come get me. It's been something that has terrified me ever since."
She relayed the story often to her now-fiance when they would drive between New Jersey and Staten Island — where both their families live — since the Liberty Science Center was always on the way.
So, after purchasing a ring in July, Brandonisio contacted the museum and organized a visit with Barone.
"We were just going for a really fun, cool date," Barone said. "I thought to myself, when he does [propose] I feel like I would know, but he was so calm. I had absolutely no idea."
When they got to the Touch Tunnel, where Brandonisio had asked staff to meet them, Barone said she nearly didn't follow him in.
"I was panicked. I started hyperventilating and sweating," she said. "I told him I'm not going in the touch tunnel, and he said, 'Okay, if anything, you can watch me on the screen.'"
She eventually convinced herself to follow him into the tunnel, despite feeling nervous in the crawl space.
When the lights came on, "I saw he had the ring in his hand. I was so shocked. At that instant, I became calm."
Next, a crowd outside, who had been watching the scene in the museum's surveillance footage, erupted in cheers.
"It was surreal being inside there and having that happen in one of those places that was so scary and frightening," Barone said.
They are now planning a wedding for December 2017.
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