Wilmes art was selected to be featured as the 2021 Loveland Valentine Card. The unveiling of her card design revealed a drawing of a vintage style bicycle with baskets filled with love letters and the iconic slogan “There is nothing in this world so sweet as love.” all tied together with the message “Deliver to the Land of Love”.
Several Valentine Ladies were on hand for the big reveal and a little different than usual annual kick-off of The Little Miami River Chamber Alliance’s (LMRCA) annual Valentine program this year. Due to the COVID pandemic , the kick-off, usually held inside the Kroger store, was moved outside where Cee Cee Collins, LMRCA President acted as emcee for the small gathering of trailside onlookers. Chamber program director Meredith Taylor stood watch over an easel with the art covered by a red cloth with white hearts. Once Cindy Wilmes was introduced by Collins, she joined Taylor in removing the cloth to unveil the 2021 Valentine Card. Wilmes was inspired by the “bike trail” connection with Loveland.
“When I thought about how I fell in love with Loveland, it’s definitely from my time on the trail,” said Wilmes. It’s where she has seen the community come together with a friendly wave, shaking hands and just shouting kudos as you go past. “It’s really made me fall in love with this charming little town.”
The trail is more than just a path to get from “point a” to “point b” in the eyes of Wilmes. She noted people route their Valentine cards through Loveland just to get stamped with the “Land of Love” postmark each year for Valentine’s Day.
“The trail is part of the journey to get to that final destination,” Wilmes said. “I feel like it really embodies the heart of this town.”
And so it is the artwork inspired by the “bike trail” connection will embody the 2021 Valentine season of love in Loveland. Yet, Wilmes is inspired by more than the charm of the trail in Historic Loveland, she has felt the positive influence and goodness of the Valentine Ladies.
“I look at these ladies, and they were role models for me, they were mentors for me at the Stage Company when I grew up here in town,” said Wilmes. “One day I want to be up there as a Valentine Lady.”
The ceremony on Thursday also served as the public introduction of the 2021 Valentine Lady Jeannie Shumaker.
It may have looked different, but the kick-off of the Valentine program still included the bringing together of the new Valentine Lady and the artist who designed the card. This time though, it was not the first time the Valentine Lady met the artist. Turns out, Jeannie Shumaker is “Aunt Jeannie” to Cindy Wilmes, keeping it in the family for this year – and maybe next. You see with the COVID pandemic restrictions on some of the usual activities of the Valentine Lady, Jeannie will serve as Loveland Valentine Lady for 2021 and 2022.
“Being around Jeannie and seeing how she’s impacted this community, I just think I want to be up there with those legacies,” Wilmes said. “I don’t want to wait, I want to start doing it now. I felt like one of the ways I could do that was through this Valentine Card.”
Jeannie Shumaker is a lifelong resident of Loveland, went through school in Loveland and graduated from Loveland High School. She likes to kid friends about being Loveland royalty. After all, she is a queen.
“I kid all my friends that they have to treat me like royalty,” said Shumaker. “Since I got Valentine Lady, they’ve curtsying and bowing. I say well it’s the follow up because I was the Homecoming Queen of Loveland in 1960. “I am very privileged to do all these wonderful things for my town.”
She was really excited to see Cindy’s Valentine Card and the “bike trail” theme she chose.
“She picked a great theme,” Shumaker said. “This is what put Loveland on the map really. It doesn’t matter where I go, when I meet someone new and tell them I’m from Loveland, they say I’ve been there, I’ve been to your restaurants and I’ve been on your bike trail. All that comes together. It’s just great.”
A lifetime in Loveland has all come together for Shumaker who grew up here, worked and served here, still lives here and her kids live here. She’s seen the changes in Loveland. All those things stand out for her along with being a homegrown Valentine Lady.
“The fact that I grew up here and I know all these ladies,” she said stands out most for her. “This is my city. It’s pretty neat to be able to say I’m a Valentine Lady from this city.”
CLICK HERE for more on the Loveland Valentine program and the Valentine Poetry contest