Editor's Note: As the year winds down, Urbandale Patch is looking back at some of the stories that made you talk, cry, laugh or just scratch your head. This story originally ran March 7, 2012.
UPDATE: Apparently these days, it's not enough to merely get a date to prom. You have to extend the invitation with flair, audacity, or panache.
Grant Christian, whose girlfriend used the billboard to his family business to ask him, in fact, pulled his own prom invitation coup. He had Ashley Shay's choir teacher put a slide in his class PowerPoint presentation that asked: "Will you go to prom with me?"
While all the girls in class were wondering if the invitation was meant for them, Grant stepped into the room with flowers for Ashley. Nice.
"The way things are these days. You just have to go over the top to get the girls' attention," he said.
How did you ask your date to prom. Share your memories (or great ideas) in our comments box.
For the 20,000 people a day who've been driving by a little photo shop in central Iowa, we have an answer for you.
The question: "Grant Will you go to JHS prom with me? Love Ash"
Ash is Ashley Shay, who isn't unusual in the sense that she is 17 and has had a childhood crush on a boy for, like, forever.
What makes her less common is that she decided to put that question to the boy — Would he go to prom with her? — on a billboard-sized sign hanging above his family's photo shop, Christian Photo.
The "boy" is Grant Christian, now a young man at 18. Their parents met in church and became good friends, so Grant and Ashley pretty much grew up together.
"He didn't like me, but I've had a crush on him forever, since second grade," says Ashley, a junior at Johnston High School. "We tried dating one time, but …"
"I got cold feet for commitment," Grant finishes her sentence. "But now I have opened my eyes."
He takes her hand.
The answer: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
The Big Idea
Grant's a senior at Waukee High School, and he's been dating Ashley only two and half months, so Ashley wasn't taking anything for granted. She knew that she had to come up with an impressive way to ask him to her prom.
"You have to know Grant to know that he goes above and beyond for everything," she says.
She'd already asked him to a Sadie Hawkins dance by spelling out "Dance?" in pepperoni on a pizza for him, so that idea was out.
"I asked my friends on the weekend to help me think of an idea," she says. "This idea just popped into my head."
Grant works four days a week at Christian Photo, with his dad, Brian, and grandfather, Dick, so Ashley called Brian and asked if he would let her ask Grant to prom via the shop's billboard sign.
It was hard to know who was more excited about the idea: Ashley or Grant's parents.
"His mom was freaking out," she says.
Actually, all the employees at Christian Photo were in on the secret. An elaborate plan was hatched to put the sign up the morning of Feb. 22, while Grant was in school, to make sure that Ashley was there when he got to work and saw the sign and to videotape the event.
And, Brian says, to make sure that Grant didn't have a car wreck while he was reading the sign.
The teenager usually drives past the store and around the block to park in the back, says Brian. Being a dad, he worried that Grant would be so engrossed in reading the sign that he might rear-end someone, so he called Grant as he was on his way to work and told him there was an accident and cars were backed up so he should pull into the front parking lot.
"We lied to him about the accident," he confesses
Grant says he saw the sign, then he saw Ashley standing beneath it. The video, above, which is posted on Christian Photo's Facebook page, shows his reaction.
"I was shocked and surprised and just full of … like. I put it in park and ran and grabbed her," he says. "The store's my life, so she kind of knew how to hit home."