- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Suitor suits up as knight for day

RICHMOND — After a six-year relationship with his girlfriend, 34-year-old Erik Roberson had planned the grandest of gestures on what turned out to be a picture-perfect Valentine’s Day.

The armor-clad Mr. Roberson, riding on Angel, a high-stepping chestnut mare, all but stopped traffic on East Main Street Tuesday while the two pranced their way to the “knight’s” lady love.

At 12:30 p.m., Melissa Dickert’s parents, purportedly there to take her to lunch, met their daughter at her office at Ninth and Main. Miss Dickert, 31, is coordinator for prevention of domestic abuse with the state Attorney General’s Office.

“Look!” shouted someone in the crowd that began gathering when Mr. Roberson was spotted. “A guy on a horse!”

Several people whipped out their cell phones, calling friends to come see.

Miss Dickert, clutching the pink roses her father had brought her, shaded her eyes and squinted into the sun. A look of bewilderment, then recognition — then shock — crossed her face.

“You don’t know how to ride a horse!” she said as Mr. Roberson dismounted. “What are you doing? Are you serious?”

The crowd stepped back as Mr. Roberson got down on one knee and fumbled for the ring, a princess-cut diamond whose box he had hidden in a purple Crown Royal bag. It hung just opposite a long, plastic sword.

Forgoing the $3,000 custom-fit armor offers he found online, Mr. Roberson — who works as a plumber for M&E; Contractors — rented his suit from Premiere Costumes in Carytown.

Once he got the faceplate in place, he looked up at Miss Dickert and grinned.

“Will you marry me?”

The crowd, including Miss Dickert’s aunt and Mr. Roberson’s sister, cheered as Miss Dickert blushed and nodded.

Her parents, Trudi and Tom Dickert, beamed.

“All you want for your child is for them to find someone to love and to find someone to love them back,” her mother said.

“That is so romantic!” said Latrice Anderson, who had stopped to watch on her way to lunch.

“You were right,” she told her friend, Sylvia Purvis. “He was proposing.”

Other passers-by stepped up and asked to examine the ring as Miss Dickert’s knight whispered that most romantic of phrases: “We’ve got an interview with Channel 8.”

A fellow pops the question in public, he has to deal with publicity, too.

Minutes later, Miss Dickert laughed. “I thought, why is there a horse coming up Main Street? Then I thought, maybe it’s the circus.”

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