The love stories will be featured in the Ormond Beach Observer's and Port Orange Observer's Love Local special edition on Feb. 8.
Reunited after 26 years
Kristin and Jeff Petersen met in 1980 as high school freshmen. Jeff had asked Kristin if she wanted “to go with him,” which is what the dating line was back then. Kristin moved out of state for sophomore and junior year but returned senior year, when the two went to prom together.
When they graduated, Jeff joined the U.S. Army and Kristin went to college. Fast forward 26 years, Kristin moved to Ormond Beach and re-met Jeff.
“What was awesome is that the first time we got together, I pulled out the 13 letters Jeff had written to me from Germany when he went into the Army in 1983,” she said. “We laughed at how he didn't get a return letter from me (in my defense, I was living life!), but somehow through my many moves over the years, I had always kept those letters.”
The pair got married about a year later and are now celebrating eight years of marriage.
All is fair in love and games
Maria Mills met Greg Benat in a computer game called Ultima Online. She lived in Port Orange, and he lived in Dallas, Texas.
“I worked for the gaming company so I played the game quite a bit as part of my job,” Maria said. “One night in the lower level of a dungeon called Shame, his character walked up to my character and told me I was hot. It was quite comical because honestly for all he knew I could have been a big, hairy man.”
The two became good friends and played the game together for three years. Then, Greg flew to Daytona Beach to visit her.
“I picked him up, and as he walked off the airplane, it was love at first sight,” Maria said. “That weekend visit turned into plans for him to move here. Twenty-two years and three kids later, we are still as much in love now as we were that day in the Daytona Beach International Airport.”
Blind date gone right
Jay and Rebekah Brennan met in Jacksonville Beach in 2001 when they were set up for a blind dinner date. After dinner, they took a walk on the beach under a moonlit sky.
“If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was certainly falling in love on the first night,” Jay said. “I remember nervously asking her for her phone number. She was without a doubt out of my league. But I couldn’t let the girl of my dreams leave without at least trying.”
On their one-year anniversary, Jay proposed on the same beach they walked on during their first date.
“After 17 years of companionship, 15 years of marriage and three amazing children, Rebekah is even more my Valentine now than ever,” Jay said.
The Brennans live in Palm Coast, and Jay works for the Ormond Beach Police Department.
Joe Hannoush, an Ormond Beach resident, is running for 2018 Florida House District 25 as a Libertarian candidate. For the Observer's Love Local special edition, Hannoush is embracing the love he has for himself with a comical submission.
“We have been together since birth,” Hannoush said. “We have grown up together. We have always been there for each other (literally). And we've never been apart (literally)! Our hearts have always felt as though they've beat as one (because they are one). We always make each other smile. And we're always there for every laugh (even when the joke isn't funny). Joe loves Joe!”