Friday the 13th has always been a day full of fond memories for Joshua and Kena Hawkins.
Planning two weeks in advance, Joshua proposed to his then-girlfriend Kena in front of the orange fountain in the Edmon Low Library during the Oklahoma state reunion on that infamous day in 2017. However , when Joshua got out of work on Friday, a friend sent him a photo and, for a moment, that was a problem.
The water in the fountain was green.
“The plan from the start was to propose in front of the fountain and so I panic,” Joshua said.
He said some fans of Baylor, the team the Cowboys played in their Homecoming game, colored the water green.
Earlier, Joshua told Kena about an event he made up. It was outside the newly opened Spears School of Business and at the event he was able to connect with people about job opportunities, so the couple had to be dressed up. Joshua’s plan was to pick up Kena after she finished her work, look at the house decorations together on the walk, and walk around Theta Pond guiding them on the path past the library.
Joshua said that once he got the message showing the green water in the fountain, he got nervous.
“I don’t have time to go and check if the fountain has changed color,” Joshua said. “The photographer was going to meet us there, so the whole plan, maybe, was ruined.”
The thought of having his engagement photos, the photos he and Kena would treasure, with a green fountain weakened his morale. But only for a moment.
While he wasn’t sure how long it would take to turn the fountain orange, or even how the process would go, he was going to propose to Kena with or without an orange fountain.
This is exactly what he did.
“I proposed in front of about 500 people who were apparently watching and our photographer captured it all, and it was awesome,” Joshua said.
Fortunately, Friday the 13th paid off for the couple. As they walked from Theta Pond to the fountain, they saw an orange fountain in the distance. Somehow, after just a few hours between Joshua leaving work and the couple walking the path to the fountain, the workers managed to make the water orange tint.
In front of the fountain, he stopped, held Kena’s hands, leaned on one knee and proposed.
“I kind of passed out,” Kena said. “I think it’s a normal thing anytime someone is offered to someone. I just don’t remember what he said. I know he said some really kind and loving things, I don’t know what it was anymore because I was so nervous.
Throughout the day Kena said he hid the surprise well and once she said “yes” people cheered. Then, they had their engagement photos taken during the Homecoming festivities.
“I remember feeling, like, totally on cloud nine, walking around with my new fianceé hand in hand taking photos on campus, ”Kena said. “It was like all of a sudden everyone was there to party for me.”
During their time at OSU, neither Kena nor Joshua was part of Greek life. Kena said she was active in building the Stout Hall chariot during her first year, but since then they have both enjoyed the Homecoming activities.
Kena has fond memories of Homecoming overall and her favorite to remember or say is to be offered to Homecoming. However, this event isn’t just a homecoming story to tell, it’s a solidified event in the couple’s relationship.
“But now, I kind of see Homecoming as my anniversary from this event, even though it wasn’t on the same day, so it’s a bit special for us,” Kena said. “It’s just like reliving it.”
For the remainder of their engagement day, the couple then returned to Joshua’s house where he cooked dinner. When they finished their meal, Kena was surprised with an engagement party at a new cafe in town, Balanced Coffee Co.
“It was super special,” Kena said.
Choosing Homecoming to propose to Kena wasn’t because of the photo opportunities, it was because of the idea that after graduation the couple might not stay in Stillwater. Joshua said their engagement starting at OSU Homecoming gave the couple a great excuse to come back not only for the school celebration, but their relationship as well.
“We’ve been to every Homecoming game since then so I guess it worked,” Joshua said.
Joshua graduated in May 2018 and Kena walked in December 2018. After the couple married, they left Stillwater but have since moved to the town where Joshua is pursuing his MBA and Kena teaches the fourth year.
“Stillwater is so special,” Kena said.