WAXAHACHIE

A kiss between the Waxahachie mayor and his wife marked the official opening of the Love Lock fence in downtown.

Mayor Kevin Strength placed a heart-shaped lock on the new Love Lock fence on Wednesday alongside his wife, Jean.

“Amy [Borders] gave Jean and me this opportunity, and we’ve been to Paris, and our daughter put a lock on the real lock bridge. They took it down, so we started another here,” Strength joked.

He added, “I’m excited about it and I think it’s cool and I think it will draw people to town — anything that draws people here to see how great things are here."

The Love Lock fence is located in the parking lot on the corner of Franklin and College Streets. A total of four 16-foot-long fence panels were placed on the renovated retention wall that divides two parking lots behind Bistro 115 and in front of the Dove’s Nest.

Amy Borders, Waxahachie Director of Communications and Marketing, said the retention wall was actually an old building at one point.

“It was made with 100-year-old brick. It was crumbling and falling apart, so there was a real need to replace the wall,” Borders explained.

The former wall was removed and replaced with a two-foot cement wall painted terracotta to match the historic aesthetic of the Ellis County Courthouse.

Borders and Laurie Mosley, director of the Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau, have worked closely together on a two-year marketing campaign, “Waxahachie: A place in your heart, Texas.” The fence along with the oversized hearts around town were constructed in conjunction with the campaign.

Borders, Mosley and downtown development director Anita Brown utilized the marketing campaign to find a creative solution for reviving the damaged wall and were inspired by other lovelock fences in European cities.

Mosley explained the fence will heighten tourism with an interactive experience and will add to experiential tourism in Waxahachie with another spot to make a memory and document it with a photo.

“The best part is that the experience is a really rich emotional one whereby a visitor gets to publicly express their love of someone or something downtown,” Mosley said. “Something that sentimental might be something they come back to see for years to come.”

The public art projects were approved at the May 21 Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone meeting, which was when the board approved and funded the Love Lock fence for $21,576. Construction on the Love Lock fence started on Aug. 20 and was completed on Nov. 6 after the parking lot was resurfaced.

Red heart-shaped locks are available at the Ellis County Museum for $10.

“It’s a public, interactive art project too,” Borders emphasized.

Borders encouraged visitors and others bring a lock or purchase one across the street at the Ellis County Museum. She also suggested those who place a lock on the fence to tag #HachieHeart with posts on social media to further the campaign.

The Love Lock fence gives people another reason to visit the Ellis County Museum and museum curator Shannon Simpson was actually the first person to place a lock on the fence. He agreed that aspects of the marketing campaign have increased traffic flow into the museum.

“The public art stuff with the mural, kaleidoscope, the hearts that are popping up around town, people enjoy it along with the murals that have been scattered around," Simpson elaborated. "Hopefully, the love lock fence will interest people by showing a significant other or memorializing a loved one that is no longer with them.”