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Time Running Out to See Chapel Hill Mall's Archie the Snowman

photo of James Yareff, Archie the Snowman
Retired electrician James Yareff -- who sounds suspiciously like Archie the Snowman -- shows off the 16-foot-tall display at Chapel Hill Mall.

Archie the Snowman – Akron’s animatronic beacon of Christmas cheer – is heading into his final weekend for the season at Chapel Hill Mall.

Annmarie Jones from Cuyahoga Falls remembers coming to the mall in the 1980s and 90s. Now, she runs The Gourmet Popper snack bar near Archie.

“Actually, you hear Archie talking the entire time because little kids are lined up for him. And then Santa’s on the other end. Lots of hustle and bustle on Saturdays," Jones says. "I started here 13 years ago, and I remember we would be busy from the end of October until the end of January; it would be like that all the time.”

Jones adds that she hopes attractions like Archie – or the Chapel Hill Comic-Con planned for this summer – will bring shoppers back to the mall since foot traffic has been light this year.

Jan Finley from Randolph has been a mall shopper since the 1960s. She’s also worked at several malls in Northeast Ohio and says, in her opinion, the healthy crowds at JCPenney are an indicator that the mall is not dying.

“There’s still a lot to do up here and I think there’s a misconception that nobody comes to the mall now," Finley said. "When I see videos posted – I just saw one posted online and there wasn’t a soul. But then when I looked a little closer, it was taken on a Wednesday night at closing.”

The original, slightly taller Archie was at Chapel Hill from 1968 until 2004. The newer Archie returned in 2012 at Lock 3 before moving back to the mall two years later. Sunday is his last day at Chapel Hill for the season.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.