For such a hot day, there were a disproportionate number of people dressed in black at the end of the Ocean Beach Pier on Saturday afternoon, July 11. The estimated 70 people who gathered on the north arm of the long T-shaped pier, however, were neither fishing nor sightseeing. They were carrying out a secret mission.
Recruited by Darryl Clark of Carlsbad from among his closest friends and associates, the participants were initially instructed to begin gathering at the end of the pier at 4:30 p.m. Further instructions had come later by telephone through Clark’s minions: "wear a black shirt and bring some food to share for the after-mission party.”
Most of Clark’s friends had the basic idea of the mission in mind, but a few had no clue until they arrived at the rendezvous. Their assignment? Deliver a message to Darryl’s girlfriend, Lara Speirs of Ocean Beach.
A few of Clark’s friends lightly sketched guidelines on the pier in chalk and the Secret Seventy stood together in such a way, holding their arms out to one another, so that they formed the words “MARRY ME.”
At 5:38 p.m., a helicopter carrying Clark and Speirs as passengers approached from the north. Ostensibly on a sightseeing tour of the San Diego coastline, the chopper began to circle the pier and then hovered motionless for a moment so that the message could be clearly conveyed.
Moments later, the ground crew received word via text message that the mission was a success: she said “yes.”
After landing, Clark took Speirs, first by automobile and then by foot, to the southernmost part of Sunset Cliffs, where he gave her a ring. At 7:49 p.m. they joined their black-shirted friends to celebrate at a bayside park on Shelter Island.