Loveland 2020 Valentine’s Lady Debbie Murray (Photo: Chuck Gibson) 

2020 Loveland Valentine’s Program officially kicked-off Saturday

By: Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND – It’s official. Debbie Murray is Loveland’s Valentine’s Lady for 2020.  Murray was introduced publicly during the annual Little Miami River Chamber Alliance (LMRCA) kick-off ceremony for the Loveland Valentine’s Program at Loveland Kroger’s Saturday morning, January 11.

“It is awesomely cool,” said Murray, who felt honored to be nominated a year ago even though she was not chosen. “To be chosen is an incredible honor.”

       Murrray was introduced at the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance Kick-off event for the 2020 Loveland Valentine’s Program (Photo: Chuck Gibson) 

Murray taught children at Tender Years for 29 years, but is retired now. While her official introduction as the Loveland Valentine’s Lady for 2020 came Saturday morning, it was no secret. Murray received the news she’d been chosen back in December. (You may have seen it all over local social media)

“It was at The Works in December,” Murray said. “My whole family was there acting strange. I said okay, something’s going on. All of a sudden, all these ladies in red came up and put a crown on my head. I was overly excited.”

Murray says she is still overwhelmed by being chosen. She is excited about making all the appearances and visits between now and Valentine’s Day. She already picked out a brand new book to read to the kids during school visits.

“Being with children, reading a story is what I look most forward to,” she said.

A small crowd of people gathered in the aisle at the Kroger’s on Loveland-Madeira Rd. during the ceremony. Cee Cee Collins, LMRCA President, said a few words about the Valentine’s events before turning the floor over to Bill Hounshell for formal introduction of Murray as the 2020 Loveland Valentine’s Lady. The former pastor of New Hope Baptist Church also did the honors of introducing Loveland Mayor Kathy Bailey. She had the honor of presenting roses to each of the past Loveland Valentine’s Ladies present as Hounshell introduced them one-by-one. 

LMRCA President Cee Cee Collins addressed the crowd of onlookers before Loveland Mayor Kathy Bailey presented the Valentine’s Ladies with roses (Photo:Chuck Gibson)

Lovelnd Valentine’s Ladies tribute wall along the Scenic Trail in Historic Loveland (Photo:Chuck Gibson)

The Loveland Valentine’s Lady tradition began in 1971 when Dr. Roland Boike implemented the idea while president of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce. He also coined the phrase “There is nothing in this world so sweet as love” which stands even today as the motto. Doris Pfiester volunteered to stamp the Loveland Postmark on Valentine’s and essentially served as “Valentine Lady” from 1972-1981. Since 1989, the chamber has selected a new Valentine Lady each year to serve a one year term. Debbie Murray is the 34th taking the torch from last year’s honoree Dr. Kathryn Lorenz.

Dr. Kathryn Lorenz (2019 Valentine’s Lady) handed off the crown to 2020 Valentine’s Lady Debbie Murray (Photo:Chuck Gibson) 

“Really sad (that it’s over). It was a fun year,” said Lorenz. “I was thrilled to talk to the kids about what Valentine’s meant. They said caring, respect, family.”

Lorenz expected to hear candy, but was impressed to talk with over 1,500 kids about loving. She’s happy to be part of the group of Valentine’s Ladies for life and thinks Debbie Murray will make a great Valentine Lady.

“What a great thing to be. I’m number 33,” Lorenz said. “Debbie said she’s nervous. Everybody loves a Valentine Lady. There’s nothing to be nervous about. Do what you feel. It is all about feelings and caring about people. My advice: just enjoy it. Show that you care for people, it will be a great year for her.”

The kick-off ceremony also served as the great reveal. Each year there is an art contest for the annual Loveland Valentine’s Postcard. Saturday Lilly Hummer, Loveland High School student, was officially announced as the winner of the contest. She was introduced and given the honor of revealing the Loveland Valentine’s Postcard for 2020.

Hummer remembers the Loveland Valentine’s Ladies visits to her classroom over the years. She did not know there was an art contest until a recent visit to her art class by a previous Valentine’s Lady. During the visit to Mrs. Burns’ class she told the students about the art contest for the postcard.

“I’ve been enjoying art a lot recently,” said Hummer. “I like my art class. I thought maybe I should try to enter. I made a few rough drafts over and over again until I got it right.”

Lilly Hummer, winning artist, revealed the 2020 Loveland Valentine’s Postcard (Photo: Chuck Gibson) 

Artist Lilly Hummer and 2020 Valentine’s Lady Debbie Murray posed together with the Valentine’s Postcard (Photo:Chuck Gibson)

Hummer’s art depicting a scene of a variety of people near the clock in historic Loveland by the scenic trail was just right. She was on her way to a biology class when she got the news her art won the contest.

“I got an email that said congratulations, you’re the winner,” Hummer explained. “I was freaking out. I started texting my mom. I did not expect that at all.

Lilly Hummer, Mayor Kathy Bailey, Chamber President Cee Cee Collins, Nominee Cindy Wilmes, City Councilman Tim Butler, Bill Hounshell and a dozen Loveland Valentine’s Ladies past and present joined in the Valentine’s kick-off Saturday, January 11 (Photo:Chuck Gibson) 

It means a lot to her to be selected as part of the Valentine’s program in Loveland. The Valentine’s program in Loveland includes stamping the Loveland Postmark on the Valentine’s Postcard at the Post Office. There also is a Valentine’s Day Breakfast celebration honoring the Valentine’s Lady, Hummer, and the winner of a poetry contest too.

“I’ve lived here my whole life,” she said. “I lived by the Post Office. Everything with the Valentine’s Ladies is very special to me. It’s an honor to be part of it.”

Click here to learn more about the Valentine’s program events on Little Miami River Chamber Alliance website here