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Chicago proposal goes viral on Buzzfeed

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February 29, 2012|By Georgia Garvey, RedEye

If you’re trying to work up the most unique marriage proposal ever, feel free to cross “viral meme on BuzzFeed” off your list.

Len Kendall, a 28-year-old digital director from Chicago, is way ahead of you.

On trend-curating web site BuzzFeed Wednesday morning, a post went up at about 10 a.m. showing an image of Kendall kneeling, text reading, “Katie, I love you so much. I can haz your hand in marriage?”

In the editor’s note, Buzzfeed explained: “Len is proposing to his longtime girlfriend Katie right here and now. Help him out by leaving an image in the comments persuading her to say yes and making Len the happiest man in the whole internets!”

The hashtag #SayYesKatie jumped to Twitter, with friends, family and random strangers urging Kendall’s girlfriend Katie Holland, 26, to accept his proposal. And in the contributor section below the initial BuzzFeed request, people added their own meme-friendly images like one with a McDonald’s shake and the image of Kendall superimposed over it.

The text read, “Shamrock shakes are great, but Len’s love isn’t seasonal.” Dozens of others rushed to add images featuring Angelina Jolie’s leg, Lionel Richie and Jeremy Lin, all with a common message: They wanted Katie to say yes.

“As much as I wanted to do something quiet and private, I knew she would love this,” Kendall said.

Though he’d known for “months” he was going to propose and had the ring, he went out of his way to craft the perfectly unique moment. “I spent a lot of time on Google looking for what other people have done, because I didn't want to copy anyone.”

For her part, Holland said she saw the proposal about five minutes after it went up, but decided she was enjoying the jokes too much to spoil the fun.

“It's hard to hide anything from me on the internet,” said Holland, a social media supervisor for McDonald’s. She particularly liked the “Tron” and “Louboutin” images. “There were so many creative ones.”

When she realized the proposal was about her and not some other random “Katie,” Holland said she burst into tears. The good kind. She said yes to Kendall in person, when he visited her at work, and tweeted a photo of the two of them, her engagement ring displayed prominently.

The decision-makers at BuzzFeed said Kendall approached them just after Valentine’s Day with the proposal idea – and they loved it.

“You can never be 100 percent sure about these things, but we had a good sense that people would like it and take to it in the spirit in which it was intended – and they really have,” said Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed's managing editor. “It's been one of the biggest and fastest growing community reaction posts we've ever done. The internet loves love, and this was a fun use of both our front page and remix memes.”

As to whether another proposal will go viral, there’s no telling. Kendall thinks it’s a definite possibility.

“The internet's kind of like the new baseball stadium,” he said.

ggarvey@Tribune.com | @gcgarvey

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