Hayley Nejman took to the ice at Rockefeller Center on Friday morning with extreme caution, holding onto her boyfriend, Anthony Piglowski, for support as she skated for the first time in over three years. The last time the Erie, Pennsylvania native ice skated was on the couple’s last visit to New York, for New Year’s Eve 2016. This time Nejman was particularly intimidated by her fellow skaters — a group of about 20 teenage girls who seemed preternaturally comfortable on the ice, flying around, doing spins and striking poses.
Despite her nerves, Nejman glided gamely around the rink, smiling and clutching Piglowski, a former high school hockey player, for balance. But when an announcer asked skaters to clear the ice “for cleaning,” it was Piglowski’s turn to be nervous.
Instead of heading for the exit like the other skaters, he guided Nejman to the center of the rink and dropped to one knee as his stunned girlfriend protested: “Oh my God, Anthony! Stop!”
Despite her shock, Nejman was all smiles and said yes immediately as their fellow skaters pulled out pink pompoms and cheered.
“We came to New York a few years ago and we went ice skating here,” Piglowski told Our Town regarding his decision to propose to his high school sweetheart on the ice. “I played hockey growing up, and she used to come to my games all the time, and we went ice skating for date night a lot, so when we decided to come here this weekend it was just a no-brainer to do it at Rockefeller.”
The Rink at Rockefeller Center hosts approximately 200 engagements each year, according to the venue’s manager, Jason Park. “Our goal is to make sure each couple has a magical and memorable experience,” Park told Our Town.
Not every couple gets an engagement as impressive as Nejman and Piglowski’s, however. Their romantic moment was captured by an NBC film crew and broadcast live on Today to over 3 million viewers on Valentine’s Day.
The new fiancés skated over for an interview with Today co-host Carson Daly, who was waiting rink-side with a bouquet for Nejman and another engagement surprise: A sponsor had gifted the couple a three-day ski trip to Telluride, Colorado. In a final flourish, the other skaters — undercover members of the Chelsea-based youth synchronized skating program CPIce — returned to the ice to perform a choreographed routine to the viral proposal favorite, Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.”
“I didn’t even realize it was happening. I forgot. As I was talking, I was like ‘Oh my God, I’m on TV!'” Piglowski said after helping Nejman off the ice.
Nejman called the experience “overwhelming but really exciting,” adding “I’m glad it finally happened.”
With his big Valentine’s Day gesture accomplished by 8:45 a.m., Piglowski said the couple’s plans for the rest of the day were flexible. “We’re big animal lovers; we’ll probably check out the zoo.”
“I didn’t even realize it was happening ... As I was talking, I was like ‘Oh my God, I’m on TV!'” Anthony Piglowski