Couples placing locks on the historic Old Red Bridge as a symbol of lasting love has become a recent tradition in Kansas City.

However, this year, the city is encouraging a new tradition to show Mother Nature some love, too.

It's a centuries-old French custom that has caught on in the Paris of the Plains. In the last five years, hundreds of valentines have left their mark on Old Red Bridge, including Colleen Whiteside and her10-year-old son, Calvin.

"He's my little love, so why not?" she said.

Traditionally, lovers snap their locks and throw away the key. But, the Kansas City Parks and Recreation says those little pieces of metal can harm the stream flowing underneath.

"It's pollution and trash to throw your key in the river. We don't encourage that," Heidi Markle, a spokeswoman for Kansas City Parks and Recreation, said.

The city has placed boxes on either end of the bridge to collect the keys.

"We hope people will take the key and put it in that box and all the keys will be put into a sculpture of a monarch butterfly," Markle said.

This year, the city will also light the area and offer hot chocolate to visiting couples to encourage a budding ritual on the historic bridge.

"I think it's wonderful. You can come back years later with your love and find your lock," Whiteside said.

The city says they will leave the locks on the bridge. They just want to collect the keys.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.



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