On Newport's Cliff Walk, 'love locks' may not be forever
By John Larrabee
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - They say the whole world loves a lover, but in Newport, Rhode Island, at least, not everyone is fond of the so-called "love locks" that sweethearts are leaving along the resort city's famed seaside Cliff Walk.
Hundreds of the padlocks left behind by tourists as romantic tokens now cover sections of a chain-link fence along the route. Each is meant to represent the bond lovers shared during their visit. By custom, the key is thrown away.
At a Wednesday night meeting, the city's Cliff Walk Commission is expected to discuss a plan to remove the locks with bolt cutters.
"When the locks first started to appear a few years ago, we didn't pay much attention," said Robert Power, the commission's chairman. "They were pretty nondescript and you hardly noticed them. But now someone has spray-painted them bright orange."
The "love locks" trend began in Europe about 10 years ago, and has since spread around the globe. Some are enchanted by the sight of lock-festooned bridge railings. Others call the dangling padlocks blight, comparing them to graffiti.
In Newport, Power suspects a vigilante wielded a paint can to force the commission to take action. "It's targeted vandalism," he says.
The commission has also added a plea to its Facebook page: “Please refrain from placing locks on the fences along the Walk - they despoil the experience and views for all.”
The Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile (5.6-km) trail, is one of Rhode Island's most popular attractions, drawing thousands each year. On one side, walkers see the Atlantic stretching to the horizon; on the other are Newport's renowned Gilded Age mansions. Continued...