JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Do you remember, back in the day, carving your and your sweetheart's initials on a tree to profess your love? Well, the romance is still alive, but through "love locks."
Worldwide, couples have left countless padlocks engraved with their names in public places. But recently in Jacksonville, about 30 locks have been yanked off a fence near the Acosta Bridge, part of an effort to clean up the city.
The parks maintenance staff apparently removed the locks because they were considered litter and graffiti. After re-examining the public display of affection, the city is allowing the locks to stay. They are telling those with locks lost to come and claim them.
It seems the perfect, somewhat private spot for couples in love to reflect on their commitment.
News4Jax found three "love locks" hanging on the fence along the Northbank Riverwalk. However, none of them belong to Caron Streibich and her fiancé.
"We went for a stroll on the bridge and we were disappointed -- all the locks were cut. The fence wasn't cut, just the locks," Streibich said. "There's so many other things that seem to be more pressing and important. There's overflowing trash cans and graffiti. The trash cans weren't emptied, but someone took their time to cut down the locks. It's just kind of hurtful."
Streibich said what the city considered trash was her treasure.
"It wasn't just a padlock, it was a special lock from a love site. We had it engraved and it was probably around $20 so we don't want to get another one. It was an organic experience," she said.
After hearing reaction from disappointed couples like Streibich and her fiancé, a spokesperson said the city will allow the locks for now. Those whose locks were removed can contact the city to pick them up.
The "love lock" custom started in Europe about 15 years ago and the trend has caught on in cities across America.
A Jacksonville spokesperson said the city is working with advocates to see about creating a permanent fixture for the locks. The plan should be available by end of this month.