Loveland’s annual Sweetheart Festival will be a little sweeter this year with the arrival of the newest Love Lock sculpture. The sculpture will be exhibited at the Foundry Plaza downtown during the festival and will be relocated to the south shore of Lake Loveland after Valentine’s Day. Love locks can be purchased through the Loveland Visitors Center. They will also be sold at the 4th Street Gallery during the Sweetheart Festival and can be customized with a paint pen or carving to include names and dates of those locking their love. The love locks are a symbol of love and commitment, inspired by an ancient tradition where lovers would lock a padlock on a chain or gate and throw away the key, a symbolic gesture of locking their love forever.
The first Love Lock sculpture was introduced to Loveland in 2019. President and CEO of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, Mindy McCloughan, and Visitor’s Services Manager, Cindy Mackin, first came up with the concept for the Love Lock sculpture when they saw a similar structure in Las Vegas. Their vision was to create something that symbolized the true heart of Loveland. They decided to add the Love Lock piece to the sculpture as a way to distinguish their sculpture from others and to give locals and visitors a way to connect in a meaningful way. They were also inspired by other Love Lock sculptures from around the world.
After the first sculpture was built, which is now the centerpiece for the Chamber Visitors Center, people began to share their stories of love via social media. Lynn Reynolds St. John of Loveland wrote “Valentine’s Day was never a big hit for either one of us, but living in Loveland changed that. In 2017 we renewed our vows at the Valentine’s Day group wedding. The following year Randy was too ill to go out, and then he passed. When the Love Lock sculpture was introduced to Loveland. I just knew that I had to get a lock, in remembrance of our love.”
Susan Ericksen from Loveland said, “Walker made me a grandma and putting our lock on the LOVE sculpture of Loveland was a special memory for both of us.
Michelle Thompson of Fort Collins shared, “My husband adopted a dog before we met each other. When we started dating it was a packaged deal. We just celebrated our seven-year wedding anniversary, but our Capone passed away this last year. We just put a love lock up for him because he was there from the beginning, showing us what love is and how it comes in many forms.”
Richard Jacobson who traveled from Frederick, Maryland kept it short and sweet, “Still in love after 54 years.”
With so much positive feedback about the first sculpture, Cindy and Mindy decided to introduce a second one to showcase a different destination area in Loveland. They had originally hoped for it to be placed downtown, but limited space proved to be problematic for the large-scale heart. Instead, they decided to place it next to Lake Loveland, which Mindy accurately describes as “one of our greatest jewels.” The lake and the mountains will serve as the stunning backdrop for photographs as people symbolically lock their love forever.
Doug Rutledge is the talented sculptor behind both of the Love Lock sculptures with the help of Beatty Construction Services and Loveland Ready Mix Concrete. Doug and his wife, Sheila, are both longtime Loveland residents where they raised both of their sons. Doug is the founder and principal of KL&A, Inc., a regional structural engineering and steel construction firm. He is heavily involved and active in community organizations and nonprofits. His love and commitment to Loveland runs deep. Doug worked closely with Cindy and Mindy to design a structurally sound sculpture that would be an aesthetically beautiful addition to the Loveland Landscape.
The idea behind the newest sculpture was for it to be an interactive experience. “We wanted to create a piece that people could enter, that they could pose with and propose under,” Mindy explains. At over 12 feet tall and 14 feet wide, they have truly created something incredible and unique that visitors and locals will cherish forever. While there are no plans at this time to add any more sculptures to the collection, next year will be the 75th anniversary of the Valentine Re-mailing program and Cindy and Mindy promise that they are going to make the event special.
“I wanted the sculpture to represent the true essence of what our community is known for. We are known all over the world as the City of Love, and we are always progressively thinking about ways to ‘ride for our brand.’ Love is most definitely a positive brand that the world needs more of!” - Mindy McCloughan, President and CEO of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce