Loveland is a beautiful and romantic scene in February, but sentimentality wasn’t on minds of city founders in 1877 when they named this northern Colorado community. They intended to honor Colorado Central Railroad President William A.H. Loveland, who also is the namesake of Loveland Ski Area 100 miles away. Loveland developed from a meager train stop to a bustling community full of romantics, artists, farmers and high-tech workers.
Count one for Cupid in the Loveland soul mates Ted and Mabel Thompson. Ted, a cowboy to the core, was president of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce in 1946 when he and Mabel received a phone call from Loveland postmaster Elmer Ivers.
The post office had received 30 valentines with the request that they be postmarked “Loveland” and re-mailed to sweethearts for added amorous flair. Not to be caught off guard again, Ted designed cachet for the next Valentine’s re-mailing. He coined “Sweetheart Town” with an a heart over the Rocky Mountains.
As requests for Loveland cancellation marks began to flood the post office, the couple stamped each envelope with designs featuring the mythical character Dan Cupid, a bow-and-arrow-wielding, chaps-wearing cherub modeled after Ted. Dan Cupid still appears in modern designs donning the same Stetson hat that set Mabel’s heart pounding on her first date with Ted.
All these years later, volunteers sing “Love Me Tender” with an Elvis impersonator while they hand-stamp and re-mail valentines sent to Loveland from all 50 states and 100 countries. The volunteers arrive early every morning, often waiting outside ready to work with smiles on their faces until the postmaster arrives with keys in hand. “It is so cute to see,” said chamber of commerce coordinator Dixie Daly.
Volunteers started annually naming a high school senior girl to be their official ambassador in 1962. “Miss Valentine” stamps the first cachet, personally delivers a gift from Loveland to the governor and addresses the state senate. Norma Jean Goodheart is Miss Valentine’s chaperone every year. She learned how to do the job directly from Mabel before her death 24 years ago. She still feels Mabel’s spirit. Goodheart once drove Miss Valentine home from a speech in Johnstown when a blizzard hit and the streetlights went out. Cars were in the ditches everywhere, she said, but they made it without incident. “Mabel was looking after us,” she said.