PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -During a showing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” at Regent Square Theater this past weekend, just as George breaks down and kisses Mary for the first time, the screen froze.

As it turns out, the technical difficulty was planned.

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On one of their first true dates last year, John Mele took his girlfriend to see “It’s A Wonderful Life,” put on every year by Pittsburgh Filmmakers around Christmas time for the last eight years.

The couple decided they would make it a yearly thing.

Perfectly timed, John waited 49 anxious minutes, excusing himself to the bathroom as crews pretended to fix the problem.

“And then, all of a sudden, I see him walk through the side door and I was thinking he was lost like he forgot where our seats were,” Darla Kurnal said.

The audience, also unaware of the upcoming proposal, quickly realized what was going on just about the same time things clicked for Darla.

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“The crowd’s reaction. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And I started putting it together,” she said.

“I figured, well, if I propose to her, it’s really going to be a special tradition,” John said.

Their proposal was sealed with a kiss, under the image of Mary and George’s embrace.

The couple says the best part, was sharing the magical moment with so many strangers.

“Sharing it with them, made them think about how they got engaged, so it was kind of a neat gift for everyone in the theater,” Kurnal said.

The night was made even more special. Keeping with the film concept of appreciation and giving back, Pittsburgh Filmmakers carried on their tradition of collecting food and monetary donations for a local food pantry.

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Heather Abraham