A Christmas tradition at Chapel Hill Mall continues this holiday season despite struggles with the mall. Archie the Snowman has returned for another year of listening to children about what they want for Christmas.
Chapel Hill Mall has experienced setbacks recently. The first being when Macy’s closed, leaving a large anchor space empty. Another blow came earlier this year when Sears announced it was closing its Chapel Hill location. With the departure of two of three anchor stores, and JC Penny being the last one remaining, several other small stores have also closed.
The big question has become if the mall were to close, what would happen to Archie?
Joann Wilson, the author of the Archie the Snowman book, said Akron has experienced a lot of change through the decades and said she wants to see Archie remain at the mall.
Wilson said Archie has gained some national attention and is really a popular attraction for people to visit. She said she sees grandmas coming and taking selfies with the giant snowman.
“It really puts faith back in the holiday spirit,” Wilson said.
Archie is known for listening to children about what they want for Christmas. He first debuted in 1968 and talked to children until 2006 when he was removed from the mall and then rebuilt and located at Lock 3 Park. Archie remained at Lock 3 Park for the 2012 and 2013 winter seasons before returning to the mall in 2014.
Tommy Uplinger and his friend David Burket were a part of the driving force to bring Archie back after 2006.
“Archie brings people together and reminds us when times were good,” Uplinger said. “People really need that now as a lot of people are angry.”
Uplinger said traditions like Archie bring people together and help spread the Christmas spirit. He wants to see Archie remain at Chapel Hill Mall and he said he supports the mall 100 percent.
“Archie’s home is at Chapel Hill,” Uplinger said.
But if Archie was forced to move agin, the city of Akron’s Lock 3 team would welcome him back, according to city Press Secretary Ellen Lander Nischt.
“If for some reason Chapel Hill Mall no longer was able to house and display Archie, we would take him back,” Lander Nischt said. “As you may know, the current Archie was constructed by the city.”
For Uplinger, he will always support Archie.
“I will be happy no matter where Archie is at because I am an Archie fan,” Uplinger said.
Wilson said she has had very strong sales of her book and will be signing books from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the mall.
Archie will be on display through the end of the year. The mall is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com