On Homecoming weekend in 2016, recent UNC graduate Monique LaBorde set out a plate of locks and a few sharpies and waited in the Coker Arboretum.
She watched as couples lying the grass migrated over to the pile and interacted with the locks. One pair in particular, who she pegged as first-years, picked up a lock and signed it — placing it on a small gate in the Arboretum.
“This is exactly what I wanted,” LaBorde said.
Their lock joined several of LaBorde’s own — two to represent her two big loves at Carolina, and one, the first one, for her sister’s marriage.
This initial lock still sits on the top left corner of the gate, with June 11, 2016, her sister’s wedding date, engraved.
“I put theirs on first, just basically, because they were the first big Carolina love in my life at the time,” LaBorde said of the couple, whom she said are avid UNC fans and alums.
LaBorde revealed the secret gift at the wedding, as her sister teared up at the announcement. The couple also received a small photo of the lock to remember the symbol.
At the wedding, LaBorde said many other Carolina graduates were similarly touched by the display.
“They were all like, ‘wow, this is a great idea, we gotta go back and do that, why didn’t we think of that?’” she said. “So that was really cute.”