ABOVE: Slaby and Clark with MDPD Officer Severance.
Last time it was anything but impressive. There was no poster. No elaborate surprise that now typically accompanies asking someone to homecoming or prom. In fact, Matthew Clark was lucky for the positive outcome after asking his girlfriend, Annika Slaby, to his homecoming at the last minute. This time, the local teen knew he had to step up his game and began plotting a memorable “promposal.”
The couple had been best friends before they began dating last year. Slaby, a lifelong Mount Dora resident, is known to locals as the beloved young violinist who has entertained downtown visitors for years to raise money for ballet camps.
Clark, born and raised in Tavares, became a familiar fixture in Mount Dora when he began continually volunteering at a wide range of community events five years ago.
The teen emailed Mount Dora Public Safety Director John O’Grady with an elaborate idea that involved the local teens getting pulled over by a police.
O’Grady quickly agreed to the clever ruse. “Community policing is important to us here at Mount Dora Police, and any time we can get our officers involved with a great little moment like this, it reflects just how dedicated our officers are,” said O’Grady. Soon Clark was coordinating the details with Officer Ivy Severance. Finally, on a recent evening after school, the plan unfolded with a GoPro secretly recording the antics (see video below). Clark picked up Slaby in his vintage 1971 Mustang, and he was soon pulled over by Sergeant Keith Taylor and Corporal Adam McCulloch for allegedly speeding.
The young couple pulled into a parking lot on Old 441 and waited for the officers to approach. As part of the ploy, one officer eventually asked them to step out of the car while he tried to clarify a concocted problem with the vehicle identification number. Eventually, the officers gained access to the trunk and called Clark to the vehicle implying they had found something nefarious that required his explanation.
As Slaby stood by nervously, Clark retrieved the contraband from the trunk and held it up. It was a handwritten poster that read “Will you go and crash prom with me?”
Stunned and very confused, Slaby eventually stammered “Yes!”
“I definitely was shell-shocked for a good 10 minutes, but was so excited and amazed at what he went through and did for me,” said Annika. For his part, Clark never doubted how his girlfriend would handle the ruse. “Annika and I surprise each other quite a bit, and I figured she would be nervous, of course, while we were getting pulled over, and maybe a little scared, but I was sure she'd handle the situation great.”
ABOVE: Mount Dora Police Sergeant Keith Taylor and Corporal Adam McCulloch
The couple attended the prom last night with a group of friends.
The brief traffic stop make a big impact with the teens. “I want to say thank you so much to the two officers who pulled me over, Officer Ivy Severance for helping me organize it and of course Chief O'Grady.” said Clark. “I cannot express how thankful I am that you did this for me. It made for an amazing “promposal” that I know neither Annika nor I will forget.” Slaby, 18, will soon realize her dream of dancing professionally. She will join the Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina in August. “Being homeschooled, I am very close with my family, so starting a new life without seeing them everyday will be hard,” said Slaby of the things she will miss. “All of my friends and boyfriend, and the relationships I have with them, and hoping they won’t change. And mostly I will miss my whole life and routine here, especially this town being my safe place and the place I became myself.”
The lighthearted couple plan to continue their relationship after her move.