Here's the story, according to Indianapolis Downtown Inc.
It was 1946. World War II was over and thousands returned home from military service. Among them, Virginia Holmes--a prize-winning commercial artist--came back to Indianapolis and began her job in the advertising department at L.S. Ayres, a Downtown department store. When it came time to compose the 1946 holiday catalog, merchandise was still in short supply, so Holmes created whimsical cherubs to fill the somewhat empty pages. The cherubs captured hearts and began an Indianapolis holiday tradition that continues today.
Customer response to the cherubs was so great, Ayres perpetuated their appearance in its 1947 holiday advertising. It was Ayres’ 75th Anniversary, and that called for a special addition to their holiday celebration plans. Ayres commissioned nationally recognized Indianapolis sculptor and Herron School of Art instructor David Rubins to create a bronze cherub for the store’s landmark clock, located on the outside of their building on the southwest corner of Washington and Meridian streets.
As the story is told, the whimsical Cherub mysteriously appeared atop the clock on Thanksgiving Eve 1947 to keep a watchful eye on the holiday shoppers until Santa took over on Christmas Eve. In the 62 years since, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers and visitors have seen the Cherub perched atop the famous clock each holiday season.
The May Department Store Company purchased L.S. Ayres in 1986, and in 1992, moved the Cherub to its headquarters in St. Louis, Mo. There was tremendous public outcry when the Cherub did not appear that holiday season. Humbled, the May Company donated the Cherub to the City of Indianapolis, and in 1994 Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., became the Cherub’s legal guardian.
So keep an eye out… the Cherub is due to arrive Wednesday evening!