Years after Chapel Hill Mall decided that Archie the Snowman had to "retire," the talking holiday icon is being resurrected. However, you won't find Archie at the mall. He'll be greeting guests at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron.
That's according to Dave Burkett and Tommy Uplinger, whose efforts can be credited for bringing renewed attention to Archie.
They started the Bring Archie Back To Chapel Hill Mall Facebook page last year and it quickly attracted more than 6,570 people as Akron and Cleveland media got involved.
"It was just a simple idea that we thought would be neat," said Burkett, who told AkronNewsNow that he never thought it would go this far.
Burkett says the original designer is involved to make sure Archie looks just the way we remember him - before "retirement."
No word yet from Akron city officials, who are busy with other important figures today - President Obama is in town. Burkett says he was asked by the city to wait until August 1 to make mention of the new development.
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Akron firefighters are cleaning up after a semi caught fire near Chapel Hill Mall.
Lt. Leon Henderson tells AkronNewsNow.com it took firefighters almost 30 minutes Thursday morning to calm the blaze near HoneyBaked Ham.
Witnesses described seeing smoke billowing from the semi tractor-trailer.
"When they got there, they saw the fully involved semi truck and they basically needed additional help," Lt. Leon Henderson said.
Firefighters used to water lines to stop it from spreading.
The smoke set off fire alarms at Macys department store and inside the mall. No one was injured.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
Follow AkronNewsNow.com for updates as more information becomes available.
It's been more than a week since fans of the late Archie the talking snowman started mounting their drive to bring him back. As much as the critics would like this to just go away -- it isn't. In that time, the Bring Back Archie Fan Page on Facebook has attracted quite an audience -- nearly 6,500 friends as of Sunday night's counting.
At this point, with just days until "Black Friday" and the official start of the Christmas holiday shopping season, a couple truths to come to grips with for the fans and foes of Archie's return:
- Mall officials say Archie's in retirement. They don't say he's in permanent retirement, offering instead a softer version. They cite concerns those with wonderful childhood memories don't need to know any more details of just where Archie is. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read between the lines;
- The corporate folks who actually own Chapel Hill Mall have been far more pleasant to deal with than the locals by most accounts, even without providing the nitty-gritty details on Archie's whereabouts -- even if it's the place where he's retired. For more than just the holiday season, I would delicately add; they're right to soft-pedal that bit of information, I suspect. Nobody wants to play the Grinch;
- as for the well-meaning folks who'd like to see Archie return to his spot at Chapel Hill Mall, they realize no matter how much they may desire to see their childhood memory come back to life after a seven-year hiatus it's not likely going to happen. They've re-focused their energies on the potential of rebuilding Archie, maybe even finding a new Akron home. I believe they are sincere and genuine in wanting their kids to have the same kind of holiday experience they did growing up Akron pre-2004.
With the exception of the local mall folks who could obviously learn a lesson or two in customer relations, and a couple of yahoos on the Facebook page overstepping their bounds, the discussion has been pretty straightforward: desire to relive one of Akron's warm and fuzzy traditions versus the business interests of a retail establishment unable at this point to deliver.
The owners of Chapel Hill Mall made their decision in 2004, but that was before lots of people were so easily mobilized by social media. Facebook is tailor-made as a great vehicle for such movements, and should be taken seriously by any business but especially those in retail, and so close to the public. Being caught on tape laughingly "no commenting" to a television reporter -- on camera -- while closing the door and then making sure security escorts the reporter outside the building, hardly reflects "taking seriously" the outreach one expects in dealing with customers or the community.
Calls to punish Chapel Hill, however, because of missteps from a public or community relations view are counterproductive. Let's not forget greater Akron used to provide jobs, shopping outlets and a tax base from three malls. Chapel Hill, and Summit Mall, are not just places to shop; these places are also central points where communities come together, where our neighbors not only shop but also work, and they provide a healthy tax base that supports not only the shops and stores under one massive roof but can also serve as a magnet for other business development. One just has to see what the Rolling Acres area is like today to drive that reminder home.
Miss Archie? Nothing wrong with that. Think it's time to move on? Nothing wrong with that, either. Traditions have to start somewhere, and one has to think the things our kids experience today may very well likely rise to the level of Archie, or Mr. Jing-a-ling, or Bruce the Talking Spruce. That's the funny thing about nostalgia and keeping memories alive to the point where they become traditions -- it's not really something that originates solely with a marketing plan, it's that rare ingredient that touches our hearts that make it so.
There's been a lot of talk lately about a former holiday icon at Chapel Hill Mall - Archie the Snowman.
You remember Archie? Tall, talking, flashing eyes?
There's a movement resurrected about this time each year to bring back Archie, who hasn't been seen at the mall for about seven years. Dave Burkett is the leader and had about 2,500 Facebook followers early this week - a number that has doubled since the topic became a mainstay this week on the WAKR Morning Show with Ray Horner.
Burkett wasn't happy with the treatment he claims to have received.
"I actually called Chapel Hill, as many of the other people in the group have done and I actually got hung up on one time, so I called back again and one person was laughing and said, 'he's in snowman hell,'" said Burkett.
Not exactly what Sandra Heymann would want to hear. She's a regional marketing director for Chapel Hill's parent company and talked with AkronNewsNow before Burkett's comments.
We only had one question for Heymann: Where is Archie?
WhereIsArchie by Akron NewsNow
Heymann would only say things like, "He's been deployed elsewhere" or "he retired."
"The condition of his body structure had worsened considerably over the past 30 years." said Heymann.
Most of us can read between the lines - we know where the remains of Archie wound up, don't we? Do we really need to say it? That's what Heymann was trying to relay to AkronNewsNow in a lengthy conversation that took place before any recording. Heymann says she can understand the emotional attachment people have to Archie and didn't want to mar those memories or the iconic images held by thousands of Akronites.
AkronNewsNow wondered the same thing - do we need to say it? One caller told us she knows what happened and was willing to go on the record. Our final decision was to let it go.
"Archie's never really gone. Archie just happened to retire and Archie was related to Chapel Hill and it's the beauty of that that keeps us going," said Heymann. "It's the beauty of that holiday spirit that lives inside us that keeps us going."
Heymann says it would be great if Burkett and his followers would direct their energy and money into a project that touches real lives today - hungry children came to mind.
But with more than five thousand followers, Archie still has legs -- or at least, the kind of legs you'd expect from a snowman. Burkett says online they're now looking toward 2012, maybe even raising funds to build a newer, better Archie and find that snowman a holiday home in Akron too -- maybe spurring even more tradition and memories for the next generation.
So, what ever happened to Archie?
We already know all we need to know.
From a Facebook fan group, to the voices of those who remember a mall's tall Christmas icon, an outcry for the return of a popular snowman is heard.
A Facebook group formed just two days ago, Bring Archie Back to Chapel Hill Mall, has close to 2,000 members.
David Giffels, a former reporter with the Akron Beacon Journal, joined the 1590 WAKR Ray Horner Morning Show Tuesday. He wrote the original news stories on the end of Archie's run at the shopping mall in Akron.
Lindsay McCoy reports by Akron NewsNow
Giffels said after new management took over the mall in 2004, changes were made to the holiday displays.
"The new owners, I guess, just didn't sort of understand us," he said. "To them it was this sort of in a state of disrepair thing that was in the way of whatever they wanted to do in the mall."
Archie's fate is still unknown.
Giffels' out reach to find Archie a new home didn't take off, as one of the places he tried was the Akron Zoo.
"I never really knew, once they didn't get any takers, if they just dumped him or, if maybe he is sitting in a back room at Chapel Hill," he said.
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1590 WAKR Host Ray Horner fielded calls from those who have fond memories of Archie.
"We're sorry to see it go," one listener said.
One man mentioned it was a holiday tradition to visit Archie with his family.
"We don't know what happened to him, but we'd like to see him back," he said.
Mary Lou Fogle was the only female voice of Archie the snowman. When she retired, she started the job that she kept for 10 years.
"It sort of evolved into asking the children a few things about themselves," she said. "It was just something I really enjoyed doing."
Do you remember Archie?
Share your memories with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!
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