An international romantic trend has made its way to Clovis.
For years, those visiting European cities known for love such as Paris and Florence have used bridges overlooking historic vistas and streams to proclaim their commitment in the form of a lock. The newfound tradition involves placing the lock, often inscribed with the couple’s initials enclosed by a heart, on the bridge, and tossing the key, if there is one, into the waters or canyon below.
Gradually, this practice often performed by tourists in Europe made its way to the United States. Now, Clovis area residents and visitors are doing the same along Dry Creek bridge along the Old Town Clovis Trail north of Herndon and just east of Villa.
According to Clovis Parks Manager Eric Aller, there are 93 locks placed on the bridge and that number is growing little by little each month. An avid trail user, Aller said he’s surprised he actually didn’t notice the locks until Mayor Bob Whalen drew attention to them during his council comments at a recent council meeting.
Whalen said he was confused by the locks at first, thinking perhaps there were a handful of cyclists that parked their bicycles there frequently enough they felt the need to leave behind a permanent lock securing their spot, but as he looked closer he discovered the initials and hearts drawn on some of the locks, at which point he became enamored with the emerging trend.
“For a sentimental fellow like me what these indicate are relationships between people in Clovis,” Whalen said. “Apparently what happens is that when you decide to commit to someone you lock that lock into the bridge so we have all these people who are signifying their love for one another by locking a lock onto this bridge.”
While the practice has caused some concern and even controversy in Europe, with so many locks along historical bridges like Pont des Arts in Paris, which at one point barely held up the weight of over 700,000 locks that they had to be removed and the trend outlawed at that site, Aller said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with the love locks in Clovis.
In fact, Aller views the love locks along the trail as not just symbolic of each couple’s commitment to each other, but also symbolic of these resident’s emotional investment in the trail itself.
“We like the idea and don’t anticipate there being any problems,” Aller sad. “We like the idea of playing a part in two people’s demonstration of their love and commitment to one another. For me, I love the fact that this is taking place along the trail system because we want to promote our parks and trails as places for community. This shows members of the community are not only using the trail but it has the kind of the meaning to them that they see this bridge as a special place to do this and share their love with others using the trails … As a city, we like to encourage people to use and enjoy the trail and this is one way our residents are choosing to enjoy it so we like it.”
When asked whether he and his wife may do it, Aller’s response was they may if she wants to, but he indicated the trend is more for young couples.
“We’ve been married for 28 years so I feel our commitment to one another is already well established and we don’t need to symbolize it in this way, but I think it is neat for young couples who want to show their commitment,” Aller said. “It’s very similar to carving your initials on a tree, but I actually think this is a better alternative because that damages the tree and this doesn’t cause any harm.”
Whalen also said he and his wife may put a lock there at some point.
“I’m tempted for my wife and I to go there on some anniversary and have our own lock put on there to symbolize our love for one another, but I’m afraid I’m not going to give her the combination because at some point she may choose to unlock it,” Whalen joked.