First Night is extra special for one OC couple

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OC first night romance

OCEAN CITY — It was First Night, and the last ride of the evening, but the beginning of a new life together for Ron and Robin Reichenbach.

One year ago, on New Year’s Eve, Ron, 51, asked Robin, 50, to marry him on the carousel at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. It was the third annual First Night carousel ride for the now-married couple.

“We got there just before they closed the pier for the night. The ride started, and Ron was seated on the horse next to me,” Robin said. “After the ride started, he got off his horse, stood next to me and put his arm around me.”

Ron, an Ocean City resident, shared with Robin the story about the old Gillian’s Fun Deck, where as a child, he used to grab for the “brass ring” as the carousel went round-and-round. It was the luck of the draw; each rider grabbed a ring as they went past the holder, a long arm that stretched out. The lucky person that grabbed the brass ring was rewarded with a free ride on the merry-go-round.

“Ron told me the story,” she said. “Then he opened a box and said, ‘would you like this ring?’ I couldn’t believe it. Of course I said, ‘yes!’”

Robin, boasting a glimmering diamond on her left hand, disembarked the carousel an engaged woman.

“It was so special,” she said. “The whole night was magical. We went to the Music Pier to a concert, we watched the fireworks. We called our families. It was an incredible night.”

The tradition continues as the couple plans to attend First Night 2012 to once again celebrate their love, this time with Ron’s 10 year-old daughter Katrina.

The Dec. 31, 2010 proposal had roots in an earlier romance.

“We dated in 1981,” Robin said. “It was a six-month summer romance; we were both at the shore. He worked at Yesterday’s; a friend introduced us, he was a friend of her boyfriend. We dated for a while and then we went our separate ways.”

Ron never forgot Robin or the fact that she loved the merry-go-round. Years later, the newly divorced Ron came across Robin on

“He sent me a note, we had not seen each other in so many years,” Robin said. “We went to lunch.”

The romance quickly re-kindled. Ron asked Robin to go to First Night with him. The Dec. 31, 2008 event included the merry-go-round.

“He remembered, after all those years that I loved the carousel,” Robin said. “So we went to First Night and rode the carousel, had a great time. That was the beginning of our tradition.”

The couple married on Oct. 22, 2011. Robin moved to Ocean City from her North Jersey home.

“I love Ocean City,” she said. “I’m meeting a lot of new people; it’s been so much fun. There’s a lot to do here, even in the off-season. I love the beach, but I find the fall has been wonderful, too.

“I take a blanket, walk to the Boardwalk and just watch the ocean. I’m a warm weather person, but I’m finding I like the peace and quiet of the slower season. It’s so calming to go down to the beach.”

The waves and salt air have had an impact. Robin said she already has sand in her shoes.

“It’s so serene,” she said. “I’m making my way around town and discovering so many things. It’s been a great experience. I’m so happy.”

First Night 2012, she said, will be a blast.

“We have plans to meet friends, they’ve never been to First Night before so we’re real excited to share it with them,” she said. “I’ve been talking it up wherever I go. It’s a really nice community event and of course, for us, it’s extra special.”

Last week the couple took Katrina to “Christmas Wonderland,” a play performed by the Ocean City Theatre Company.

“That’s another new tradition,” she said. “There is so much to do here, every weekend there’s something fun going on.”

On First Night, the OCTC is scheduled to perform “Annie.” The Reichenbach’s will be in the audience.

Robin said she could serve as an ambassador for First Night.

“This is truly a new beginning for us, and it all got started with First Night,” she said. “I feel so lucky to be here in Ocean City, to be living this dream. Ron is an old-fashioned gentleman. He’s a very special guy; for him to remember that I loved the carousel, to take me for a ride, to propose on a carousel two years later.

“You don’t find many guys like that,” she said. “I feel so lucky!”

City publicist Mark Soifer said First Night was created to bring people together.

“That’s a very heartwarming story,” he said. “It’s what Ocean City and First Night are all about: families. Ocean City is a family resort, a family town. It’s a very special place and people can feel it; that’s why they all want to be here.

“We wish Ron and Robin many years of happiness and we are very pleased that First Night was played a big role in their happiness.”

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