YOUNGSVILLE — Peggy Killian joined her valentine at the altar, taking his hand as a chorus of deep fryers serenaded them and the scent of catsup wafted overhead.
As she wed Harold Strother in the Youngsville McDonalds on Thursday, a crowd of friends set down their pies and coffee, bowing their heads under the golden arches.
Grimace waddled in, blessing the newlyweds with oversized purple hands. The Hamburglar circulated among the wedding party, politely waiting to eat. The chaplain, who doubles as a McDonalds hospitality greeter, served Coke in red Solo cups.
This is where we met, said Strother, 65. This is where I asked her to marry me. This is where I gave her the ring. We thought, Lets have a simple ceremony here.
Their eyes first met at Wednesday-morning bingo at the end of last summer.
Harold, a recent widower retired from Wake Electric, had grown lonely. By his reckoning, the McDonalds on U.S. 1 sits only 2.2 miles from his house in Franklin County, where he has lived all his life. So he gave bingo a whirl.
He and Peggy bonded quickly. At age 60, a nurse, she had also lost a spouse. They won lots of bingo games. Then in the fall, in the parking lot outside McDonalds, Harold gave Peggy a ring.
We didnt go looking, she said. God provided.
Everything I like she likes, Harold gushed. Everything she likes I like. Fishing. Gardening. Camping. Bluegrass music. NASCAR racing. Water skiing. Boating. Oh, and dancing, too. Lots of our square dance club in Youngsville is here today.
The McDonalds, one of three owned by Pamela Hutcheson, welcomed the couple. At 2 p.m., the lunch rush had ended, and most of the customers who werent wedding guests likely knew Harold and Peggy.
Harold wore a white rose boutonnière over the left lapel of his red plaid shirt, and a bingo card over his right. Peggy carried a bouquet of red roses, and wore a scarf decorated with hearts over her red sweater. The bingo crowd all hummed Here Comes the Bride as Peggy walked past the McCafe to a makeshift altar next to a table.
Chaplain Janie Hudson made the cake, and Tommy Matthews, a swing manager at the Wake Forest restaurant, arranged the flowers.
Its like one of those fairy tales, said Neil Strother, the grooms brother.
Their Jeep Cherokee waited in the parking lot, wrapped in red streamers. The Strothers were bound for Gatlinburg, Tenn., and for years of happy bingo games at the Youngsville McDonalds.