Dayton Mall has created their own version of the international craze “Love Locks,” with help from a local sculptor and a lot of loving hearts.
It started with a walk on the Purple People Bridge, and has resulted in more than 1,000 locks on an ever-growing sculpture at the Dayton Mall.
“It’s an ever-changing piece of public art,” says Mall Marketing Director Dave Casper. “People have really gotten into it and enjoyed it.”
Enter in metal sculptor David Palmer of Troy, who willingly donated his time and talent. His design is an interconnecting heart of metal rods and stands 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide. For $5, any mall goer can purchase a lock, write a message and choose a spot on the heart to hang it. The locks all come from a special supplier in Florida and are offered in five colors.
Santa Claus hung the first lock in December 2014, when the sculpture was slated to be a temporary holiday addition. But the Love Locks became so popular, the heart has now become a permanent addition at the mall.
All of the proceeds go to local charities, many of which are grassroots and have been recommended through public input. From its inception to this fall, the locks have already raised more than $8,500 for charity.
For this holiday season, lock-ers can choose from one of four charities to contribute:
A Special Wish Foundation, Dayton Chapter – Grants wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses in Montgomery, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Greene and Shelby counties.
Girls on the Run of Dayton – Inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident with running. The youth development program works with girls in third to eighth grade through interactive lessons and running games. It culminates a celebratory 5K running event.
Hannah’s Treasure Chest– Enriches the lives of children in need by providing nonprofit and social service agencies in Butler, Greene, Montgomery, and Warren Counties with clothing, furniture, toys, books and other essential items for their clients.
Shoes 4 the Shoeless– Provides new gym shoes and socks to children in need in Montgomery, Miami and Preble Counties by visiting local schools and organizations and personally fitting each child.
Solidarity and Remembrance
In Dayton, Casper noted the locks have taken on a life beyond romantic relationships. There are still locks commemorating lifelong relationships and true love, but they are joined by locks giving messages of hope, messages of solidarity, and messages of remembrance. One of the locks reminds people to “be noble – you’re made of stars.” Some messages are from parents to children, some are written in honor of lasting friendships.
“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Casper says.