The Dayton City Council unanimously approved a new project called the Dayton Love-Lock Fence at the final meeting of 2021. It will be funded by a grant from Dayton Community Development Corporation to the Dayton Enhancement Committee for public art.
The idea was presented by Kaylee Davis, Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Dayton. “To inspire community involvement, especially in the youth population and to create something that can be built upon generations and new traditions,” said Davis.
The fence will be located on the right side of the Dayton Police Station, off HWY 321, and a special dedication ceremony will be held on Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. Attendees are encouraged to bring their locks to be displayed on the fence, but there will be locks available for purchase for those who would like to participate.
This project was also presented to Dr. Jessica Johnson and other school representatives of Dayton ISD, who loved the idea. Principal Geoff McCracken then received the presentation and enlisted Ryan Wagner, Ag Mechanic teacher at Dayton High School, to enlist his welding students in fabricating the fence and building pride within the high school and the community.
One of the ideas is to have young couples add a lock to the fence on their way to homecoming. Although, it can also be a way to remember loved ones who have passed, like grandparents, parents, and friends. The City of Dayton is excited and hopes it will bring many people together in the community and for it to continue throughout the future. It will be another great attraction, along with the murals, star statues, and many other beautiful features that tourists will visit in the town of Dayton.
The history behind it all goes back 100 years to a melancholic Serbian tale of World War I. It started on the “Most Ljubavi” bridge in the spa town of Vrnjacka Banja, where Nada, a schoolmistress, and Relja, a Serbian officer, fell in love. They were committed and engaged until Relja went to war in Greece, where he fell in love with another woman from Corfu, and Nada called off the engagement. She never recovered and passed away due to heartbreak. As a result, young women from Vrnjacka Banja began writing theirs and their loved ones’ names on padlocks and attaching them to the bridge where Nada and Relja would meet in hopes of protection of their love.
Many places across the globe have adopted similar customs, and this will hopefully become a unique location locally for the community to express their displays of affection.