Love was in the air on Valentine's Day in Brooklyn Thursday but there were no chocolate boxes or pricey roses in sight.
If the couples, families and students on a class trip looked closely though, they could see a gorgeous panoramic view of Manhattan's East Side skyline. If they looked below, they would see the reason for their Cupid-inspired adventure: the Newtown Creek Sewage Treatment Plant in Brooklyn.
A sewage treatment on Valentine's Day?
That's exactly what love-struck Brenda and Richard Cullerton wanted to see on this most romantic of holidays.
"We are exploring together," said Brenda Cullerton as she walked with her husband toward an observation deck at the sewage plant to get a better view of the skyline across the East River. "This is like some new exotic place."
Adventurous and unconventional, the Cullertons, of Manhattan, agreed a tour helps keep their relationship interesting.
The Cullertons have been married for 33 years and "the key to a relationship is to keep it alive," she said, adding humor is also vital.
"We're having a gas," chimed in Richard Cullerton, 56, who made the pun after hearing the lecture that explained how gas buildup inside the plant breaks down the organics of fecal matter.
"Without humor you die," his wife said.
This is the third year the city Department of Environmental Protection has offered a Valentine Day's tour, which quickly filled up with several hundred people Thursday.
There are weekly educational tours at the plant throughout the year offered by superintendent Jim Plynn, who gives a PowerPoint lesson on how raw sewage and its water is cleaned before being poured back in the city's waterways.
"This was sort of a surprise," said Danielle Pomorski, 25, who writes plays.
"We lived here in Greenpoint and we always saw the plant and its eggs but we didn't know what it was. I thought she would get a kick out of it," said her boyfriend, Kevin Kniowski, 26, who works in film and television.
"I always wanted to know what these eggs were for and now I know. It's interesting," Pomorski said.
The plant's eight shiny silver eggs, which stand 120 feet above the street, cover the sewage plant and contain its fumes.