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The year the L.S. Ayres Cherub didn't come home for Christmas

Posted at 2:02 PM, Nov 22, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS — Every year since 1947, the bronze cherub has shown up in Indianapolis on the L.S. Ayres clock at the corner of Washington and Meridian streets.

That is, every year except 1992. 

When the downtown L.S. Ayres store closed in January 1992, the cherub didn't find its way to the clock as it always does on Thanksgiving eve.

This led to outrage from Indianapolis residents who were just looking to see the 1,200 pound cherub that season.

The city bought the building from May Department Store Co., but didn't buy the cherub, which went to a warehouse in St. Louis. 

Cherub in storage in the 1960s. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society

"I think that the city — when they bought [the building], they should've bought the cherub too," one man said in 1992. "If they paid that kind of money for the building, they should've included the cherub. Somebody got ripped off somewhere."

For weeks, the cherub didn't show up in its perch. A group called the "Free the Cherub" committee distributed bumper stickers, trying to get it back. They said they weren't issuing a boycott, just missing their traditional symbol of Christmas. 

The cherub returned on Dec. 17, 1992, in a morning ceremony at Washington and Meridian. 

The Indianapolis cherub first went up to celebrate L.S. Ayres' 75th anniversary in 1947.

The Cherub is said to be placed on the clock to watch over holiday shoppers until Santa takes over on Christmas Ever.

Watch the full story of the missing cherub in the video player above. 

Cherub in storage in the 1960s. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society