Dayton Mall visitors can once again ‘lock up their love’ on giant heart sculpture

The Big Heart campaign at the Dayton Mall has resumed after the program was paused at the beginning of the COVID-19 campaign.
The Big Heart campaign at the Dayton Mall has resumed after the program was paused at the beginning of the COVID-19 campaign.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

Valentine’s Day might be over, but a grand and unique romantic gesture perfect for any date night is just one trip away to the Dayton Mall.

The Big Heart campaign at the Dayton Mall has been an eye-catching tradition of love for years, although the mall needed to pause the project for almost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in February, mall goers can once again purchase a “Love Lock” at the mall to lock onto the sculpture themselves, or as a couple.

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Love padlocks, also known as “Love Locks,” represent a custom in which padlocks are affixed to a fence, gate, bridge or similar public fixture by sweethearts to symbolize their everlasting love, according to Dayton Mall marketing director Karen Kelly Brown. Typically, the sweethearts’ names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love.

Love Locks are available for purchase at Hannoush Jewelry, located near Center Court inside the Dayton Mall, for $5 each.

The Big Heart campaign at the Dayton Mall has resumed after the program was paused at the beginning of the COVID-19 campaign.
The Big Heart campaign at the Dayton Mall has resumed after the program was paused at the beginning of the COVID-19 campaign.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

It’s not exactly certain when the tradition began, but in Europe, love padlocks became a popular expression of love in the early 2000s. Though travelling overseas to lock up one’s love with a friend or partner is more difficult to do as the pandemic continues, participating in the tradition at the Dayton Mall can be just as meaningful.

“The human spirit that I get to see day to day is so incredibly gracious and warm and giving,” said Beth Mann, board president of the local non-profit organization For Love of Children (FLOC).

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FLOC is the beneficiary for all the funds raised by the Big Heart campaign through the end of March. Since the onset of COVID-19 last year, FLOC has partnered with numerous other local non-profits and agencies to provide whatever resources are needed to struggling children on a daily basis. One of the initial food drives that FLOC held, in partnership with several other non-profits, fed approximately 160,000 people.

“Even in the darkest of times, it’s inspiring to see how many people just want to shine a light in the world,” Mann said.

FLOC serves over 6,000 children in the Dayton area who are abused, neglected, in the foster care system or in need of community resources — especially since the onset of the pandemic. It was established in 1980 and consists of an entirely volunteer-based team of over 2,000.

Every penny raised through the Big Heart campaign goes to the children FLOC serves through the end of March. Mall officials will name a different non-profit to benefit from the Big Heart campaign each month or two.

“I think the Dayton Mall has just done a beautiful job of sharing the mission of so many different charities in the area,” Mann said. “They’re like the ultimate cheerleader, like the ultimate mission statement, they’re just doing so much to promote Dayton. So we’re very grateful to be a part of that.”

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