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Mysterious cherub tradition continues despite tragic loss

The city’s decades-long volunteer who helped the cherub make its way up on the old L.S. Ayres clock passed away.

INDIANAPOLIS — Every year, it’s a sign the holiday season has arrived when a bronze cherub mysteriously appears on the old L.S. Ayres clock on the southwest corner of Washington and Meridian streets.  

It’s a beloved tradition that’s been going on for more than 70 years. The baby angel comes out of hiding and watches over downtown Indianapolis shoppers until Santa arrives on Christmas. It secretly goes up the night before Thanksgiving.  

RELATED: COVID can't cancel the legend of the Cherub

But earlier this year, the city’s decades-long volunteer who helped the cherub make its way up to its perch passed away.  

So, on Wednesday night, his older brother and family members carried on his tradition by using a bucket truck to place the heavy baby angel on the clock for everyone to see.

Credit: WTHR
Even though it remained a mystery to so many in the city, family members always knew who the secret helper was. They said this year is extremely emotional without him, but they wanted to keep his beloved and treasured tradition alive.

Even though it remained a mystery to so many in the city, family members always knew who the secret helper was. They said this year is extremely emotional without him, but they wanted to keep his beloved and treasured tradition alive.  

They even honored him with a plaque that said, “May we carry on this tradition with quiet pride as humbly as he did.”

Credit: WTHR
Volunteers keep the tradition of hoisting a bronze cherub on the old L.S. Ayres clock alive on Nov. 24, 2021. The baby angel comes out of hiding and watches over downtown shoppers until Santa arrives on Christmas, then it disappears.

Last year, the historic clock and cherub underwent an extensive restoration

The cherub tradition goes all the way back to the days when the old L.S. Ayres store was downtown. The angel-like statue was part of the store’s holiday advertising in the late 1940s. 

The cherub will mysteriously come down once again on Christmas Eve this year.