|Archie the Snowman, in his new home at Lock 3.|
As malls continue to disappear, we hear more stories about the things that people miss about them. The one thing that crossed my mind (pre-pandemic) was Christmas. Malls used to have amazing decorations. I remember Rolling Acres Mall had a huge castle set up, and Santa sat in the middle of it. Richmond Town Square had a similar setup last year; I'm not sure whether they're still even open.
When malls close, they usually leave everything in them, including all of the decorations. Akron's Chapel Hill Mall has been cruising slowly towards foreclosure all year, which made me start to wonder around September what would happen to Archie.
Archie is an over 20 foot tall talking snowman, who has lived at Chapel Hill Mall on and off since the late 1960's. He lived at the mall until the early 2000's, during an ownership change. There was a crowdsourcing campaign to bring Archie back, which was a huge success. Archie was at Lock 3 for a few years before returning to Chapel Hill in 2014. Chapel Hill Mall has been in a death spiral for years now, so with each passing year, the fate of Archie at the mall has been in the back of my mind. I'm glad somehow the city got involved and got Archie back downtown.
|Me n' Archie, November 2019.|
The photo of me with Archie is part of a deck of playing cards, called Akron on Deck. If you'd like a set of playing cards featuring various Akron landmarks, you can pick up a deck here.
|Archie without a face at Chapel Hill Mall, November 2019.|
I was happy to see that Archie wasn't going to be at Chapel Hill this year. Last year, he sat for two weeks without a face. Just this big, giant, faceless snowman, lording over the vast, empty food court. It was a sight to behold, but also, I'm glad my niece wasn't old enough to let that all register and freak her the fuck out, either.
Because of the pandemic, we were able to enjoy Archie at Lock 3 quite a few times. After seeing all of the pretty lights and the window displays from O'Neils and Polsky's, my niece runs down the hill to see "Arch" or "No" (short for "snowman", I think? I'm not 100% fluent in toddler). She rode her bike over to him a few times, too.
My husband and I went downtown one night and grabbed cocktails from our favorite bar, The Lockview, got them to-go, and went over to Lock 3 to see Archie. Fun fact: Lock 3 is now a DORA, so you can get to-go and cruise around that area with a beverage. It was our first time, and I have to admit, it made me miss Vegas, but also gave me that rush that only drinking booze on the street gives you, I guess. Drinking alcohol near the giant talking snowman from the mall felt rebellious, in a good way.
If you want to read more about Archie the Snowman, local author Joanna Wilson put out a book full of facts and nostalgia called The Story of Archie the Talking Snowman