Have you heard the one about Valentine’s Day being just a holiday created by Hallmark to make money?
We all have. Usually from the mouth of some curmudgeon who thinks the sentiment is original.
Cindy Mackin is well-aware. She’s the visitor services manager for Visit Loveland, which, as you might guess, enjoys the benefits of its auspicious moniker.
“I respect that. It’s not for everybody. And not everybody celebrates it,” she says. “We definitely own this holiday. We are love land. It’s not just one day out of the year. We love love, and there’s a huge visual representation of this love all over the city all year round.”
The Colorado town takes full advantage of the holiday every year with weeks of love-themed festivities, including a Valentine group wedding, Sweetheart Classic Race, Valentine-themed lights and art installations and even an annual Valentine beer by Grimm Brothers Brewhouse called The Bleeding Heart, a barrel-aged Baltic Porter brewed with vanilla and bourbon.
This year marks Loveland’s 75th anniversary as the nation’s Sweetheart City. And probably Hallmark would do well to throw the town a bone, as every year more than 100,000 cards are mailed in larger envelopes with extra postage to the Loveland Post Office. Valentine stampers then hand-stamp the cards with a special Valentine’s verse and Loveland stamp and remail them to recipients.
While the pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual Sweetheart Festival, couples are still able to get married or renew their vows Feb. 14 in Chapungu Sculpture Park, a new location for this year’s group wedding due to the ability to physically distance couples. Forty couples took the plunge last year, though it was a replunge for 30 of them, as they were married.
In place of the festival is the new Quest for Dan Cupid, a citywide scavenger hunt that runs Monday through Feb. 15. Dan is a character that was stamped on valentines in the 1950s. People can download an app and follow the clues. Prizes will be offered. More information can be found at valentinesdayinloveland.com or visitlovelandco.org.
While holiday-themed lights will decorate the entire town, downtown’s Foundry Plaza will feature the “Something RED” exhibit — art installations in vacant storefront windows from Feb. 12-March 12. And don’t forget the two giant love lock sculptures. Couples can purchase $20 love locks at the Loveland Visitors Center and hang them on the sculptureslocks, proving once and for all their love will last a lifetime.
“It’s not just your typical I’m going to buy you something and we’re done,” says Mackin about the town’s Valentine’s Day offerings.
“It doesn’t have to be a Hallmark card. Everybody wants some sense of normalcy and to feel love, whether it’s between couples or not. Bring your dog up for the day. People, for the most part, love love. We want to give some ways to visually show and celebrate that.”
Contact the writer: 636-0270