Akron is reviving a Christmas tradition.
Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth announced Thursday that Archie the Talking Snowman will be a part of the city’s ninth annual Holidayfest at Lock 3.
For 35 years, children visited Archie, a 20-foot giant who debuted in 1968 at Chapel Hill Mall near the J.C. Penney store.
A mall worker sat behind tinted glass in a nearby booth and provided Archie’s voice via microphone. The worker also made Archie’s glowing eyes blink.
Up to 3,000 children visited Archie during the holiday season, including Tom Uplinger and David Burkett, both of Akron.
When it was time to share the magical visits with their own children, Archie was gone.
Now Akron hopes to pass on the tradition to a new generation.
Ra’ul Umana, who helped maintain Archie and even provided the snowman’s voice, and Uplinger and Burkett will assist the Lock 3 staff in designing and building a new Archie. He’ll be no taller than 14 feet to fit in city-owned space at Lock 3 in the former M. O’Neil store.
“It wouldn’t work outside,” Lieberth said.
Wind and snow could damage the giant snowman and the frosty temperatures could be too much for children waiting in line to talk with Archie, he said.
“We’re going to redo the space as kind of a winter wonderland,” Lieberth said. “We’ll build it around Archie.”
The work on Archie will start at the end of the Lock 3 summer season.
Uplinger and Burkett have been lobbying for a year to bring back Archie. They created a Bring Archie Back Facebook page that has more than 6,500 members.
The two were dismayed when they learned that Archie was dismantled and trashed in 2003 when Chapel Hill Mall’s new owners decided to get rid of the snowman.
After seeing the interest on Facebook last year, Lieberth was willing to give Archie a new home. The city considered adding the snowman to last year’s holiday festivities at Lock 3, but decided there was not enough time to pull it together.
The city’s annual Winterfest boasts a 10,000-square-foot ice rink and a 150-foot sledding hill.
City officials say 20 arts and entertainment events are scheduled at the venue from Thanksgiving to the First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve. The holiday market and the Welcome Santa parade also will return this year.
Uplinger said Archie will be a great addition at Lock 3.
“The thing that made Archie special is, that thing is so big, it’s going to freak you out at first,” Uplinger said. “Then you get the courage to go up there, and then you love him and you have to see him every year.”
The city plans to reintroduce Archie the day after Thanksgiving, during the annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony at Lock 3. Fireworks are also planned for the opening ceremony.