Tuesday, November 26

L. S. Ayres' Cherub Arrives in Indianapolis for Christmas 2013 Season

Below is the tale of the famous L.S. Ayres cherub, which arrives annually to oversee shoppers during the holiday season. No one ever sees the cherub arrive, but, just like Santa Claus, you can depend on catching sight of him every year.

It was 1946. World War II had just ended and thousands returned home from military service. Among them, Virginia Holmes--a prize-winning commercial artist--came back to Indianapolis and started her career in the advertising department at L.S. Ayres, a downtown department store. When it came time to compose the 1946 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 1947 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 WatchAs 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. 28) until Santa took over on Christmas Eve. In the 66 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.

So keep an eye out… the Cherub will be appearing downtown very soon ~

Visit the Indiana State Museum gift shop for replica Cherub pins.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel, food, wine and spirits columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com and catch her as Indy’s Personal Lifestyle Adviser on Indy Style, WISH8 (CBS). Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, and in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.


D. Exford Franklin said...

L.S. Ayres was my first job, upon returning to Indianapolis, I remember the tea room where the old ladies would come to have lunch. Christmas time was really special at
L.S. Ayres. When L.S. Ayres left downtown Indy wasn't the same. I remember the clock with the cherubs, it was apart of the store.

D. Exford Franklin said...

The cherub really made Christmas special, When it snowed during Christmas it remind me of Christmas on 34th Street.