“Roses are red, violets are blue;
A peek onto Main Street,
Will provide a story for you.”
                                                           - The Heart of Urbana Gremlin

Heart left by Urbana Gremlin published in March 5, 1979, Courier The Morning Courier awoke to that mysterious greeting on their doorstep, February 14, 1979. Looking down the street, Courier reporters discovered that parking meters and store and office doors in the downtown Urbana area were festooned with Valentine’s greetings of red ribbon apparently the work of Urbana’s ‘Gremlin.’

The Gremlin resurfaced a few weeks later adding HUGs to the hearts. This time businesses felt the love as the Gremlin bestowed its ‘Heart of Urbana Gremlin’ Awards (HUGs) to downtown property owners who invested in renovations. The Gremlin’s proclamation declared:

I heard rumors that downtown Urbana was dead. So I went to prepare for the funeral. But I found that a resurrection had begun and a funeral would be premature. Some owners seem content not to get on the bandwagon or to just roll over and play dead. But we have some live wires in our community who can see past their own noses.
Since they are doing something nice for us (funeral arrangements for a whole downtown are cumbersome and expensive for the taxpayers), I decided someone should do something nice for them.
Call off the funeral! Downtown Urbana ain’t dead!” 

The Gremlin gave HUG Awards to: Auler Law Offices at Race and Green; Jumer’s Castle Lodge; Mikohn Design for its renovation of the old Elks Club on Main Street; Johnson, Frank and Frederick Law Firm which remodeled former Baker’s Apparel into office space; Isaksen & Matzdorff Architects on Main Street; Glen Frazier Architects at Race and Elm streets; the Millhouse Centre on Race Street north of the Boneyard Creek and Dwight Dobbs, who remodeled six buildings downtown. 

And this is where mentions of the Gremlin cease, at least as far as I can tell from the information available. The Morning Courier, where the Gremlin posted its poems and proclamations printed its last paper March 31, 1979.

Have you heard about the Heart of Urbana Gremlin? Are you the Heart of Urbana Gremlin? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sherrie B.
Archives Librarian

‘Parking meter ribbons were from ‘Gremlin,’ The Morning Courier, February 15, 1979
‘Urbana ‘Gremlin’ backs with downtown HUGs,’ The Morning Courier, March 5, 1979
‘Downtown Boosters get HUG Awards,’ Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, March 5, 1979