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November 24, 2017

Philly pulls LOVE Park bricks moments before Black Friday sale

City officials failed to get permission to use Robert Indiana's iconic design

11172017_LOVEParkGranite Photo courtesy/Philly Parks and Rec

The city's Parks and Recreation Department created 3x3-inch bricks sourced from the original granite at LOVE Park.

Some 300 people lined up Friday morning at Philadelphia's annual Christmas Village with hopes of purchasing commemorative bricks featuring Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE design. 

But they all left empty-handed.

It turns out, the city failed to get permission to use the LOVE design, forcing city officials to pull the plug on the Black Friday sale as hundreds waited to purchase them.  

"We at Parks and Recreation incorrectly assumed that we had the permission," Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jennifer Crandall said. "Why wouldn't we? When we were told that (we needed it), we immediately put a halt on the sale."

The city intends to open the sale at a later date. But time will be ticking for consumers to get them before the holidays.

"We need to sort out this legal issue first," Crandall said. "We've applied for permission to use it already. We're working on it. We're hopeful. We want to move on this as soon as possible, that way folks can soon pick these up for the holiday season."

The Christmas Village opened Friday at the redesigned John F. Kennedy Plaza – better known as LOVE Park thanks to the iconic Pop Art sculpture that calls it home. 

The LOVE sculpture, which is being rehabbed, will reappear next spring when LOVE Park officially reopens.

To celebrate LOVE Park's redesign, the city was set to sell 3x3 inch granite bricks engraved with a likeness of the LOVE sculpture, which has sat in the park since 1976. The bricks had been taken from the granite slabs that formerly comprised the walkways in LOVE Park.

The city only produced 250 of the items, which carry a $50 pricetag and a two-per-person limit.

The demand for the bricks took the city by surprise, Crandall said. Hundreds of people lined up to purchase the bricks the moment they went on sale.

Now, they'll have to wait a bit longer. 

Crandall said she does not know when – or if – the bricks will go back on sale.

"I can't tell you if it looks good or not," Crandall said. "It's a legal thing. It's not my purview. If we do get the likeness, we're looking into making more bricks."

The city took the names of everyone standing in line, Crandall said. They will have the first opportunity to purchase the bricks if they become available at a later date.

"If you were in line, we took names in order," Crandall said. "As the bricks become available, we'll be reaching out to people so they can purchase them."

Given the demand for the bricks, Crandall said the city likely will expand production if it gains permission.

"Even the line that formed today, not everybody would have gotten one," Crandall said. "We had no idea that the demand would be like this. We would like to make more to meet the demand. 

"Although we're very disappointed that we couldn't put them on sale today, and we apologized for the inconvenience, we think it's actually inspiring that so many people are so interested in LOVE Park."

Crandall said she did not know who reached out to the city on Friday to inform city officials that they needed permission to use the design.