The Most Romantic Thing Ever Caught on Film

A love story for early adopters from the fledgling days of the camcorder.

In 1988, two kids who didn't know each other happened to spend the same afternoon at Sesame Place, a small theme park in Pennsylvania. Sixteen years later, they met on a blind date. But it wasn't until much later that Jourdan Barovick and Ryan Spencer, now married with three kids, realized they had crossed paths as children. Remarkably, they have video footage of the moment. tells the story of how the couple realized the coincidence while watching one of the Barovick family's old home videos.

They knew both Ryan and Jourdan's families had taken similar trips to the Sesame Place amusement park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, at about the same time, but didn't expect to see a young Ryan pop up in a video shot by Jourdan's parents. Jourdan's mother is standing with her younger siblings, watching for Jourdan's turn on a water slide, when Ryan strolls past, directly in front of the camera.

"We did a complete double-take," Jourdan Spencer said. "We paused, we rewound, we paused, we rewound, over and over again."


The Spencers have compared the boy in the video to old photos of Ryan and are positive it's him, especially now that other relatives and friends have weighed in.

"I got a chill at first," Ryan Spencer said. "I couldn't believe it was me, and then it became kind of a romantic thing."

It's an astonishing coincidence, the chance encounter itself and the fact that it's on tape, especially given how heavy and expensive camcorder technology was at the time. In 1988, home video was just beginning to permeate the mainstream, and the market was still dominated by early adopters. (America's Funniest Home Videos, the long-running TV show that capitalized on—and incentivized—home movie-making, debuted as a series in 1990.)

Today, the majority of Americans have pocket-sized, high-quality digital cameras. (The majority of American cellphone users have been using smartphones since 2012, according to the Pew Research Center's annual count.) Which means it's probable that many, many more chance encounters like the one at Sesame Place are being captured today by unknowing recorders.

It also seems even less likely that such moments will reveal themselves in the future.

Humans are now taking almost 1 trillion photos a year, according to various estimates. We take more photos every few minutes than had ever been taken in the 19th century. And, culturally, the ease with which people can capture ordinary moments means that the emphasis in picture-taking has in many ways shifted to the delight of recording a moment—and, okay, real-time sharing—rather than the pleasure of revisiting it later. Humans are creating so much media that we can't possibly look back at all of it.

And the ability to record for long periods of time, or take thousands of photos on a single device, means lots of people are less selective about what they record to begin with. Of course, when you don't fully realize why what you're recording is meaningful until 30 years later, anything's possible. After all, the value of any technological format, even the outmoded ones, can blossom in unexpected ways over time.