KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This pandemic has been a roller coaster.
Some people have lost loved ones, and there's been loneliness during lockdowns. It's also been a chance for people to meet others in unique ways and find new passions.
Whatever the case, everyone could use a little love.
“Matchmaker, day coach, wedding officiant, love guy,” said Timmy Gibson.
Gibson is Kansas City’s "Hitch." He plans matchmaking events for KC singles in a safe environment.
“I think the last couple years of people being alone, those that were single, I think that’s lead to people longing for companionship,” Gibson said.
But he says Kansas Citians are divided on Valentine’s Day.
“There’s this feeling of magic which is really just compatibility,” he said.
The Old Red Bridge in Minor Park is a hotspot for that "magic." Decorated with padlocks, it celebrates love in the form of anniversaries, first dates and special moments.
“Four years ago, people started hanging locks on there,” said bridge-goer Eric Spady. “All of a sudden tons of them started showing up. It’s fun, a lot of times people are up here getting proposals, it’s kind of a thing.”
The Taylor family put their lock on the bridge, too.
“We got a lock, spray painted it red and wrote our names on it and hung it on the bridge," the Taylors said. "It’s all part of our Valentine’s scavenger hunt every year as a family — we celebrate our family love.”
Each lock tells a different story of great loves past and present.
“I even have two locks on there myself,” Spady said. “One for my wife, for my anniversary married 40 years ago this May, and my mom passed away a little over a year ago, so I did another one. I make this part of my walk, walking with my dog, and touch my two locks and look at them sometimes.”
Gibson’s advice to those looking for love is to be flexible and aware of nonnegotiables. For those in love, he says to remember to not be blinded and to do the maintenance.
“Whatever’s important to your partner, make it important to you, and whatever’s important to you, it should be important to your partner,” he said.
Spady says the best way to love is to stay true to yourself.
“Love genuinely, love deeply love from the heart,” he said.
And in true Old Red Bridge fashion, the Taylor family said love is "steadfast, committed and locked."