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Ducks Fans Make Another Memory at Honda Center by Renewing Their Vows

Woody and Melina Jasso, who once got engaged at Honda Center, take part in a special Hitched at Honda Center Ducks Day at the arena

by Adam Brady @AdamJBrady / AnaheimDucks.com

It was just about seven years ago - December 2013 to be exact - when Raul Jasso was pulling his car into the Honda Center parking lot with his girlfriend Melina, and he was a nervous wreck. 

But it wasn't that night's Ducks contest vs. the Islanders he was anxious about, the latest of countless games he and Melina had attended together. No, Raul had actually planned to propose to Melina that night - he just wasn't exactly sure how. 

"I remember my palms were all sweaty, and I was freaking out," remembers Raul, who has gone by the nickname "Woody" since he was a kid. "I knew I wanted to do it there, but I didn't know how or when or where I was going to ask or what I was going to do. She had family who was at the game too, and a lot of them knew I was going to do it, so there was all this pressure on me."

He finally decided to propose in the car, right there in parking lot, but he couldn't find the words. "I'm sure I was mumbling and just rambling on and on. I'm thinking, I just gotta do it right now. I've just got to get it over with so I can relax and enjoy myself tonight. And I asked her to marry me right inside our car."

As Woody fumbled his way through it, Melina thought something was wrong because, "He never gets nervous. And he was like, 'Let's sit here and talk for a little bit.' And I'm like, 'Why, the game is gonna start!' He was saying how fun things have been with us together, all this mushy gushy stuff, and I'm like, 'Dude, what is up? Are you breaking up with me? What is going on right now?'"

Then she saw the ring come out of Woody's pocket. "I just started getting all teary-eyed," she says. "It was really sweet. It was very heartfelt, and then he asked me to marry him."

You can figure out by now she said yes, and they soon joined members of Melina's family inside Honda Center to celebrate during the game, which happened to be a 5-2 Ducks victory. "It was," Melina says, "a perfect night."  

And it was just the latest memorable moment for the two of them at Honda Center, a place Melina herself had been going regularly since she was a kid. So it was only appropriate that when the opportunity arose last week to renew their wedding vows there, they didn't hesitate. 

With so many weddings cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda Center had been hosting "Hitched at Honda Center" civil marriage ceremonies on and off since last April. More than 2,500 civil ceremonies have taken place just outside the arena, with almost 4,000 marriage licenses also issued.

Last Thursday was a special Hitched at Honda Center Ducks Day, in which Ducks fan couples interested in getting married or renewing their vows sent in their requests online, with back stories of their relationship and their love for the team. A select number were invited to take part in a Ducks-themed ceremony in front of the arena, receive a special Ducks wedding gift, have Wild Wing as their witness and Ducks broadcasters Kent French and Steve Carroll taking turns as officiants. 

"It was a really amazing experience," Melina says, "really cool and exciting, especially because we didn't know what to expect, and we were both really happy with it. I know everybody has a story about why they wanted to do it, but I think for us it was a little more personal. The Ducks have become a part of our lives together, and I think he knew how important it was to me because I've gone to games my whole life."

Adds Woody, "To even imagine being able to do that, it's something that doesn't even cross your mind. It really was so great." 

Some of the ceremonies included personal video messages from Ducks players past and present, with the Jassos getting a special one from goalie great J.S. Giguere. 

"I literally had tears in my eyes," says Melina, who considers "Jiggy" one of her all-time favorite Ducks. "That was seriously the coolest shoutout ever. It was amazing, and I couldn't have asked for anything better."

She still remembers as a child getting a Giguere autograph after waiting in line for an hour at a fan event she attended with her grandfather, who introduced her to Ducks hockey. He had season tickets through his job and would take Melina and her two brothers to games frequently.

"It was kind of like a date thing for me and my grandpa," Melina says. "It was something we did probably every week for a long time. Even when I was younger, it was like, 'Oh, you don't have to do your homework. We're going to the game.' He had taken my brothers a couple of times and they were like, 'Yeah, this is cool,' but I was like, 'No, this is not just cool. You're making memories.' It's something I grew up with and fell in love with.

Woody was a sports fan but not a big hockey fan while growing up in Southern California, and it wasn't long after he and Melina started dating in 2010 that she took him to a game. He remembers hearing the Ducks goal song for the first time - Bro Hymn by Pennywise - and he was hooked by the whole experience.

"The first goal, I hear this song go off, and I'm like, This is punk rock, and you can't get more California than that. There are so many cool things about this I love. This is awesome. How can you not love it?"

Woody and Melina were married in September of 2014 and now have three kids: Makayla (9), Amelia (7) and Owen (4), who was named after Melina's grandfather. They have been Ducks Orange Alliance members (season ticket holders) for the last four years and have taken their kids to games since they were infants. They sit right above the Zamboni tunnel in section 217, and they can't wait until they have a chance to see Ducks hockey from those seats again. 

"Going to the games when I was young, and now making those memories at Honda Center with our kids is really, really fun," Melina says. "And every day our kids are asking, 'When is hockey coming back? When can we go back?'" 

With no definitive answer for the time being, the Jassos take pleasure in the memories they made at Honda Center last week - a rekindling of their love for each other, for the Ducks and for the place where it all started. 

"That's definitely one for the books," Melina says with a huge smile. "That was really, really fun. It was so exciting, and I'm so glad we were able to experience it. We'll never forget it."

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