Couples are visiting Duluth to lock up their love and throw away the key

It's an old tradition that has spread to cities all over the world.

It's an old tradition that symbolizes love and commitment: Lovers fasten a padlock to a fence, gate, bridge, or other public fixture – in this case, some old wooden posts along the Lakewalk in Duluth.

Some couples write their names or initials and a date on the lock. Then they throw away the key into the water, symbolically locking their love forever.

There are several theories about how and where love locks originated, but the ritual has been performed in cities all over the world for quite some time.

Rome's oldest bridge is covered in love locks, inspired by a best-selling novel and movie about a young couple. Germany, South Korea, and New York City's Brooklyn Bridge all have collections. But perhaps the most famous site for the locks was at the Pont des Arts in Paris.

Love locks appeared on the bridge around 2008, and by 2015, the City of Love was overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of padlocks that eventually had to be taken down because the weight of them all threatened to destroy the bridge.

People started noticing love locks in Duluth's Canal Park about two years ago, and the clusters have only continued to grow.

The Pioneer Press says no one seems to know – or admits to knowing – when the first lock was stuck there, but there are hundreds now.

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A post shared by Russ (@rhaugen1) on Jul 3, 2017 at 7:30am PDT

And while the locks are often treated as vandalism and taken down by other cities, it seems like Duluth officials are embracing the love – for now anyway.

A city spokeswoman told the paper that as long as the locks don’t somehow threaten the nearby boardwalk, there’s no plan to take them down.

Fox 21 also shared a statement from Mayor Emily Larson’s office, which says the city will keep an eye on the locks and "respond accordingly should it have a direct impact on public safety or public infrastructure.”

“We can understand how Duluth’s beauty and the Lake reaches people at their core. It’s a powerful feeling. We love that people have an emotional connection to Duluth," the statement says.

This isn't the first time the trend has come to Minnesota either. Last summer, the Star Tribune reported people were putting love locks on a walking bridge in Hastings.

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