Lancaster Santa Returns to Unified Bank Roof
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Growing up, most of us sent letters to Santa. When little, we wrote them in crayons and entrusted those letters to our parents. These days, kids send emails. Either way, all these messages somehow find their way to the North Pole and end up in Santa’s hands. But in Lancaster, some messages aren’t sent to the North Pole. They are sent directly to Unified Bank, 201 N Columbus Street.
According to Unified Customer Service Supervisor Cherisse Rader, calls and letters come to the Bank every year, asking when Santa will be coming to town. “Most of the world expects Santa to come on December 25th,” said Rader, “but here in Lancaster, we all expect to see him on the roof of Unified Bank in time for the annual Christmas parade.” Rader added, “Santa has been appearing on the roof of our building every Christmas Season for over 90 years, and we at Unified plan to keep that tradition alive.”
The tradition started in the 1920s when the Stewart Brothers-Alban Furniture Store owners opened shop in the four-story building on the corner of Wheeling and Columbus Streets. To attract shoppers to their store, the furniture store erected a paper-mache Santa on their rooftop. As you may expect, the paper-mache Santa didn’t last and soon needed to be replaced. The existing Santa Unified showcases every year is now made of fiberglass. This is the fourth generation of the rooftop Santa to keep watch over Downtown Lancaster keeping track of who's naughty and nice.
Standing seven feet tall and weighing just under 75 pounds, Unified’s Lancaster Santa is hoisted up to the roof every year by the man who also serves as the yearly keeper and guardian of the statue, Mike Qualls of Gene’s Sign Co. located in Bremen. Qualls uses a crane each year to lift the jolly fellow in red to the top of the Unified building.
Unified’s President, Chairman, and CEO Scott Everson recalls meeting a couple from Lancaster, Ohio, halfway across the country at a banking business meeting. As the conversation turned to Lancaster, Everson mentioned his role with Unified and said he had two banks in town, one on East Main and one in Downtown. The couple lit up and said they had watched the Downtown building’s rooftop every November for as long as they could remember watching for Santa to arrive. Everson knew at that moment how important the Unified rooftop Santa was to the community. Everson stated, “Unified’s vision is to create better lives and futures for the people and communities we proudly serve, including keeping the Downtown Lancaster Santa tradition alive.”
Unified Bank is a full-service FDIC-insured, state-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Martins Ferry, OH and has eighteen locations that serve the Ohio counties of Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Fairfield, Harrison, Hocking, Jefferson and Tuscarawas and Marshall County in West Virginia. Unified Bank is the sole operating subsidiary of United Bancorp, Inc. (UBCP), a publicly-traded bank holding company, and has been serving the financial needs of the Ohio Valley since 1902 from its headquarters in Martins Ferry, Ohio.