Saturday, November 24
Where is the L.S. Ayres Christmas Cherub in Indianapolis 2012
It was 1946. World War II was over and thousands returned home to Indianapolis from military service. Among them, Virginia Holmes--a prize-winning commercial artist--came back to Indianapolis and began her job in the advertising department at L.S. Ayres, a downtown department store. When it came time to compose the '46 holiday catalog, merchandise was still in short supply, so Holmes created whimsical cherubs to fill the somewhat empty pages. The cherubs captured hearts and began an Indianapolis holiday tradition that continues today.
Customer response to the cherubs was so great, Ayres perpetuated their appearance in its '47 holiday advertising. It was Ayres’ 75th Anniversary, and that called for a special addition to their holiday celebration plans. Ayres commissioned nationally recognized Indianapolis sculptor, and Herron School of Art instructor, David Rubins to create a bronze cherub for the store’s landmark clock, located on the outside of their building on the corner of Washington and Meridian streets.
Cherub Keeps Watch
As the story is told, the whimsical Cherub mysteriously appeared atop the clock on Thanksgiving Eve 1947 to keep a watchful eye on the holiday shoppers (beginning Thursday, Nov. 22) until Santa took over on Christmas Eve. In the 65 years since, thousands have had the pleasure of seeing the Cherub perched atop the famous clock each holiday season. This powerful tradition lives in the hearts and minds and memories of a city and its grateful citizens.
The May Department Store Co. purchased L.S. Ayres in 1986 and in 1992, moved the Cherub to its headquarters in St. Louis. There was tremendous public outcry when the Cherub did not appear that holiday season. So May donated the Cherub to the City of Indianapolis and in 1994 Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. became the Cherub’s legal guardian.
If you look carefully, you will spot where the Cherub is in Indianapolis...
In addition, find replica Cherub ornaments at the Indiana State Museum gift shop, visit IndianaMuseum.org.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, at GottaGo.us and FoodandDrinkDigital.com and catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published on Gottago.us, BroadwayWorld.com, in magazines and several Indianapolis area newspapers. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.