“Let Love Bloom,” a tree sweater in honor of Toby Strout, the recently retired executive director of Middle Way House, was officially dedicated on Friday, October 7. The tree was sponsored by Toby’s daughter Anna Strout and Bloom Magazine. Pictured at the dedication are actor Jesse Eisenberg, a major Middle Way supporter; Toby Strout; Anna Strout; actor and special guest Diane Neal of Law & Order fame; her boyfriend, magician JB Benn; and Bloom editor and publisher Malcolm Abrams. The “Let Love Bloom” tree is located on the south side of Kirkwood near The Uptown Café.
The tree sweater is one of several in a public art installation downtown called Wrapped in Love created to raise awareness and funds for Middle Way House, which provides emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, legal advocacy, and educational programs for Monroe County and surrounding counties.
In addition to Bloom, sponsors include Yarns Unlimited, Indiana University School of Public Health, Pictura Gallery, DeAngelo’s, Nick’s English Hut, The Crean Family, ISU The May Agency, The Irish Lion, Crazy Horse Food & Drink Emporium, and Shalom Community Center.
Toby Strout and Neal officially opened the exhibit by cutting yarn, instead of a ribbon, around the Middle Way House Tree, located on the south courthouse lawn.
Volunteers spent more than 600 hours making the tree sweaters, and over $5,000 was raised for Middle Way House. The installation will stay up through mid-March, 2017.