New rules of engagement for love locks

Don’t use hanging baskets; consider soon-to-come alternative

JANELLE PATTERSON   The Marietta Times
Locks secured to hanging baskets Monday on the Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge will be removed at the close of summer.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Locks secured to hanging baskets Monday on the Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge will be removed at the close of summer.

Some signs of love will come down by summer’s end.

For several years, couples have been putting “love locks” on the Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge but the padlocks more recently added to flower baskets on the bridge have been troubling to those who maintain the structure.

“We’re not against you securing a lock and tossing the key into the river to confess your love, but please not on the flower baskets,” said Chuck Swaney, vice president of the Harmar Bridge Company that owns the converted railroad bridge. “Why if you’re locking your love to something wouldn’t you secure it to the permanent structure instead of a temporary structure like a basket?”

Swaney said the locks strain the security of the baskets fastened to the iron bridge and present a problem for maintenance of the flowers. He encouraged those wishing to fasten their locks to stick to the grates beneath either side of the walkway instead.

“Even if you use a chain, for those locks that wouldn’t fit around one of the bars beneath the guardrail, that’s fine,” he said. “I think those are cute. But also please be aware of the locks that have prongs sticking out the back of them because those can catch on a pant leg if someone is leaning against the railing.”

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Locks lining the grate beneath the guardrail of the bridge will remain past the season, but as part of the restructuring of maintenance for the flower baskets on the private bridge locks on the flower containers will be disposed off.

However, by July locals will have another alternative to the walkway as a venue for the love locks, as a sculpted tree will be put up on which to place the locks.

“The sculpture commissioned by Marietta Main Street as part of their public art project is scheduled to be inaugurated during the First Fridays festivities in July,” said Swaney. “It will go in at the Marietta Harbor so you can still toss the key into the river from the bridge.”

Marietta Main Street President Cristie Thomas said the project is almost complete and is being constructed by Parkersburg artist Zachary Orcutt.

“The Love Lock Tree will be installed in the first week of July prior to First Fridays,” she said. “It can hold more than 100 locks and stands about seven feet tall.”

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Thomas said the project cost about $2,000 and was funded through a grant and from a private donor honoring John and JoAnn Hefner.

Swaney also encouraged couples to look for unique or more aesthetic locks to secure their affections.

“The locks in the shapes of the heart are pretty, and many on places like Etsy can be custom engraved,” he said. “Why not spend a little extra, it’s not much, to say ‘I love you’?”

At a glance

¯ Love locks secured to the hanging baskets on the privately-owned Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge will be removed by the end of summer.

¯ Bridge users are asked to secure their locks only to the structure itself instead of the baskets or chains connected to the baskets.

¯ Marietta Main Street will also be installing an alternative venue for love locks in July.

If you go

¯ What: Installation of the Love Lock Tree.

¯ When: July 7.

¯ Where: Marietta Harbor at the corner of Butler and Post streets.

¯ Who: Open to the public.

Source: Cristie Thomas, Marietta Main Street.

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