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Nothing like popping the question with style. Even if much of Baltimore hears the question hours before the prospective bride does.

Nothing like popping the question with style. Even if much of Baltimore hears the question hours before the prospective bride does.

Overnight Wednesday, a billboard went up near the corner of Read and Cathedral streets. Invoking both Halloween and the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, it shows one skeleton, in top hat and on bended knee, in front of another skeleton, wearing a feathered hat and red skirt. He’s offering her a ringbox; she looks delighted.

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“Allison Haley, will you marry me? Juan Carlos Puga," the billboard says. Doubtless, people driving or walking past Thursday morning shared in the joy these skeletons were clearly projecting. At least one person took a picture of the billboard and put it on Twitter.

Problem is, Puga hadn’t actually asked the question yet. But he had everything planned: he and Haley were going to arrive at the billboard site around 4 p.m. Thursday, she was going to see it, he was going to show her the ring, and happiness would ensue.

Thankfully, that’s pretty much how it worked out. “I was completely surprised. I had no idea,” Haley said (after saying yes), a beaming Puga at her side. “I had no idea it was going to happen today, or anytime soon.”

A relieved Puga admitted there wasn’t much doubt on his part what Haley’s answer would be. The couple met about two years ago, introduced by a mutual friend, and have been dating ever since. “I knew right away,” the groom-to-be said. They’ve been living together in Mount Vernon for about a year, said Puga, 29, a third-year law student at the University of Baltimore. Haley, 25, a fourth-year medical student at Johns Hopkins, even helped him pick out the engagement ring.

His friend, Evan Zippert, an account executive with the billboard’s owner, Clear Channel Outdoor, came up with the idea; artists at Clear Channel came up with the design, a nod to Puga’s Mexican heritage. It cost him $500 to rent the space, Puga says, and the billboard is set to remain up for two weeks.

“I said yeah, why not? Let’s do it,” Puga says — about the billboard, not the wedding. The illustrated proposal even includes a trio of skeletal cats, a nod to the couple’s feline pets.

But wasn’t he worried Haley might find all the attention and the public display a little embarrassing?

No, he said a couple hours before the big reveal. “I don’t think either one of us — we don’t get embarrassed too easily.”

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