Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays from Akron Ohio's Father Christmas - Archie the Snowman!

Meet Archie the Snowman - a talking 15 foot tall snowman created by Ra'ul Umana.

photo by Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal  
Ra'ul Umana and his harlequin macaw, BeBe, pose for a picture with Archie the Snowman in O' Neil's basement, Nov. 21, 2012, Akron, Ohio. Umana, who was the creator and voice of the snowman, is working with volunteers to not only rebuild Archie but re-create the O' Neil's Christmas experience that featured large display windows along the front and sides of the massive store where seasonal displays were set up for viewing by the public.
Archie the snowman, a local Christmas icon that was on display at Chapel Hill Mall from 1968 until 2004.  Umana, 64, was in charge of the Archies, and hired the pixie and Archie voices for the town's holiday display. 

This year, Umana was put in charge of re-creating Archie and putting together Archie’s Enchanted Encounter, located in the basement of O'Neils, the longtime downtown department store.

Umana spent time making some of the Archies in years past and was the voice of Archie for many holiday seasons, talking to an estimated 21,000 kids one season. Archie was resurrected this year after local fans Tommy Uplinger and David Burkett urged on a Facebook page that Archie be brought back.

To Umana, father of two and grandfather of four, Archie represents all that is Christmas and the holiday season.

“I wanted to bring them not something techno, not something they will look up on their cell phones or computers,” he said. “This is something you have got to see [in person].”
A 4-year-old, he said, “will always be a 4-year-old.”

And, according to Umana: “The same things that make a 4-year-old’s eyes pop out now did in 1900.”

You can read more about Archie and Ra'ul Umana (and Ra'ul's interesting background - from army medic to go-go dancer and more!) at the Akron Beacon Journal Online.

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