What’s love got to do with it?

PHOTO COURTESY LOVELAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Remailed Valentines will get this hand-stamped greeting this year.

Nothing, in the case of the name of Loveland. Founded in 1877, the city was named for William A. H. Loveland, the president of the then newly constructed Central Colorado Railroad, along which the new town was situated.

But love has everything to do with the reputation that Loveland has built as the “Sweetheart City.” The hugely popular Valentine Remailing Program was the start of it all. Run by the Loveland Chamber of Commerce—which becomes an official U.S. Post Office substation during the season—the marketing program gives cards from all over the world a hand stamp of a picture and a verse, plus a special cancellation postmark.

The program began in 1946, when Loveland residents Ted and Mabel Thompson talked to postmaster Elmer Ivers about putting a special stamp and a saying on Valentine cards that they planned to remail for anyone who sent them in—“a romantic extra touch.”

Publicize Loveland by trading upon the word “love” in its name. That was the goal, and the Thompsons planned to spread the word by talking to newspaper reporters. Ted Thompson was “a terrific P.R. man,” recalled his wife in an interview nearly 50 years later. “The ideas just spun out of his head.”

The publicity plan worked like a charm. Thanks to newspaper coverage, cards began to arrive for remailing. Just like today, the personally addressed Valentines were tucked inside a larger envelope addressed to the remailing program, then hand stamped and sent on to their destinations.

The Thompsons did all the work themselves the first year, stamping each of the Valentines with a cowboy character they dubbed “Dan Cupid,” and the words “Valentine’s Greetings from Loveland, the Sweetheart Town.”

By 1948, the plan was working too well for the Thompsons to keep up—40,000 cards poured in! By the early 1990s, Loveland had remailed an estimated 8 million Valentines.

Both of the Thompsons passed away in the early 1990s, having seen Ted’s brilliant marketing idea work like a charm, with all sorts of Loveland Valentine’s Day events built around the Sweetheart City’s reputation.

Today, the remailing program handles more than 100,000 Valentines a year. About 60 volunteers do the work of hand-stamping the envelopes and sending them on to the intended recipients. The verse and stamp are different every year, with a contest for residents’ poetry and artwork held by the Loveland Chamber of Commerce.

The Loveland hand stamp used on remailed Valentines in 2016.

To get that “romantic extra touch” on your Valentines, slip your personally addressed Valentine into a second envelope addressed to Postmaster – Attention Valentines, 446 East 29th Street, Loveland, CO 80538-9998, and drop it in a remailing box at your local post office, or at King Soopers grocery stores. In Loveland, remailing boxes are located at the post office at 446 East 29th Street, and in the lobby of the Chamber of Commerce/Loveland Visitor’s Center at 5400 Stone Creek Circle. For more details, visit https://withlovefromloveland.com/the-valentine-re-mailing-program/

Deadlines are February 1 for international mail; February 7 for U.S. mail outside CO; and February 9 for Colorado mail. Don’t forget to seal your Valentine card with a kiss!

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