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Nebraska city takes Valentine's Day hoopla to heart

Associated Press
Published February 13, 2005

Valentine's Day is a big deal in Valentine, Neb.

From placing a Valentine postmark on thousands of pieces of mail and hosting extra weddings to offering heart-shaped steaks, this city of 2,900 people goes all-out for the lovers' holiday.

"We do it up pretty big," said Chamber of Commerce director Dean Jacobs. "We definitely, definitely associate ourselves with Valentine's Day. Other people associate us with it, too."

The chamber runs a mail redirecting program called Cupid's Mailbox. Employees stamp thousands of letters and packages with Valentine greetings and put them back in the mail so they carry the Valentine postmark.

"We do buckets of them," Jacobs said.

During the week before Valentine's Day, the local post office processes roughly 15,000 extra pieces of mail - double what it handles in a normal week.

Couples who want to get married on Valentine's Day also make their way to Nebraska's "Heart City." The district court's clerk magistrate is scheduled to conduct six weddings on Monday.

However, the number of weddings will likely be higher because couples from across the country make last-minute decisions to get married in Valentine on Valentine's Day, said Marsha Bauer, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express, where ceremonies have been held for the past five years.

Locals also get in the spirit, Jacobs said. Many treat Valentine's Day with the reverence usually reserved for religious holidays and some send yearly Valentine's cards instead of Christmas cards. City students are picked as Valentine's Day king and queen. The local steakhouse, the Peppermill, has been serving (or shipping) heart-shaped rib eye steaks for two for 17 years. Owner Roger Joseph said he expects about 500 steak orders this year.

[Last modified February 13, 2005, 01:09:06]

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