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The wedding of two Rockport residents had an added surprise when a soldier in Afghanistan gave the wedding toast via Skype.
The best man in absentia was Army Staff Sgt. Jason Balzarini, also of Rockport. Although unable to be there in person, Balzarini was able to give a surprise wedding toast to the newly married couple, Rockport police Patrolman Michael Anderson and Jessica Cooper, via the video call software.
It was about 4:30 a.m. in Balzarini's part of the world. It was a stormy Saturday evening at the Ocean View Inn and Resort on Gloucester's Back Shore where the wedding took place last week.
The couple and the crowd watched the message on an iPhone belonging to Balzarini's sister, Cassie Balzarini, who was working at the inn for the wedding.
Balzarini and Anderson, the grandson of former Rockport Police Chief Louis Anderson, have been friends since their days as students at Rockport High School where they played baseball together. Balzarini graduated in 2002 and Anderson a year later in 2003.
The couple -- and everyone else in the room -- was greatly moved to see and hear the army staff sergeant share his well wishes to the couple while deployed overseas.
"That was an awesome surprise," said Anderson.