The first locks have been added to the Love Locks wall, a new art installation at the Dayton Community Center. On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the Dayton Enhancement Committee hosted a grand opening celebration and invited the public to begin adding their own padlocks.
The art project is a 6-foot tall by 26-foot long galvanized steel and mesh wire structure that has been placed on the north side of the Community Center next to the public walking trail. It will be adorned with padlocks as a sign of a committed union between two lovers, and will also provide a perfect backdrop for photos and marriage proposals.
Funded through a grant to the Dayton Enhancement Committee through the Dayton Community Development Corporation, the Love Locks project was created by DEC volunteers in an effort to beautify the city and attract visitors.
“None of the projects we do for beautification are funded by the City,” said Mayor Caroline Wadzeck in her capacity as a DEC volunteer. “We get money through Hotel Occupancy Taxes but that has to be spent on tourism. We’ve also gotten grants and private donations. The Dayton Historical Society has funded several of our projects, too.”
Kimmie Woods, a volunteer for Dayton Enhancement Committee, provided the labor and steel for the Love Locks project at his machine and welding shop.
“I have been involved with them (DEC) since they started in 2016. I live in Liberty and got involved in Dayton, and they have been trying to convince me to move ever since,” Woods said with a laugh. “I enjoy this. It’s rewarding to see the smiles on everyone’s faces at the things we do to enhance and beautify the city of Dayton. I am honored to be involved. It’s meant a lot to me and a lot to my business.”
Woods was among the first to add a padlock to the wall in recognition of his love for his wife.
“A lot of memories can be made right here. Love for family and friends, and all your anniversaries, to be able to come out here and celebrate events in your life,” he said.
Susan Simmons, who leads the DEC, recognized Woods’ other contributions to the organization.
“Kimmie did the post office at The Crossroads and has done so many things for us,” she said.
The inspiration for the art project in Dayton came from Kaylee Davis, a Dayton High School student who spent a summer interning for the City of Dayton. She shared the idea with her supervisor, Kim Judge, director of Development and Planning Services for the City of Dayton, who encouraged her to present it to the city council for approval.
Davis has since graduated from Dayton and is attending Lee College in Baytown. She is pursuing a degree in chemical engineering and plans to transfer to the University of Houston in December to continue her education.