Spider-Man Climbs to No. 1 in Downtown Decorating Contest

 It was neck-and-neck between two sisters at two business located just a snowball’s throw from each other, but it turns out that Spider-Man climbed to No. 1 as the winner of the inaugural Downtown Holiday Decorating Contest, hosted by the Wheeling Arts & Cultural Commission.

Spider-Man climbs up the Laconia Building.

The Wheeling Arts & Cultural Commission announced today that Felton CPA, located at 1144 Market St. in the Laconia Building, won by a popular vote. Uniglobe Ohio Valley came in second.

Felton CPA’s winning entry featured Spider-Man climbing the historic building to deliver gifts, and a window display “From your friendly neighborhood CPA firm.”

Pat Felton of Felton CPA, who entered the Laconia Building in the contest, noted that his staff let out a big “whoop whoop” at the news. Firm CPA Elizabeth Birch spearheaded the decorating effort.

“We actually chose the theme of Spider-Man for our window display mainly because we liked the idea of hanging a 5-foot-tall inflatable Spider-Man on the side of the Laconia Building. My husband works in the comic book industry, and we purchased the inflatable Spider-Man for our home a few years ago, but we couldn’t figure out how to hang it at our house,” Birch said.

“When our office posed the idea of the decorating contest to the firm’s partners, Jack and Pat Felton, I offered the inflatable Spider-Man for the display, believing they would think I was crazy. Instead, they loved the idea and told us to make Spider-Man our theme. Our staff did a fantastic job and were absolutely so creative in incorporating a character not normally associated with Christmas into a Christmas-themed display. We took Spider-Man’s nickname of ‘Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man’ and turned it into the ‘Friendly Neighborhood CPA Firm’ because that’s what we hope our firm can represent to our clients and the people of Wheeling.

“As Spider-Man was once told, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ and our firm understood that our prime location in downtown Wheeling and in the iconic Laconia Building meant we needed to create a display that people would remember. Between our staff, the Laconia Building’s maintenance crew, and a few other family and friends, we hope that our Spider-Man display brought some joy and entertainment to our little corner of downtown Wheeling,” Birch added.

Holiday wishes from Felton CPA, “your friendly neighborhood CPA firm.”

Coincidentally, second-place winner Uniglobe Ohio Valley was decorated by Birch’s sister, Jennifer Elias, along with the whole crew of co-workers, and they’ve been battling it out for weeks!

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Bill Bryson, Uniglobe owner — and uncle to Jennifer and Elizabeth — commented today that, in the holiday spirit, “he’s not demanding a recount!”

Some friendly family gloating took place as Elizabeth Birch showed off Felton CPA’s first-place award to her uncle, Bill Bryson of Uniglobe Ohio Valley, which came in second in the decorating contest. Artist Robert Villamagna created the contest plaque.

Bryson praised the Arts & Cultural Commission for spearheading the lights project. “When you drove around town, it’s looked better than it has in a long time,” he said. “It was a nice thing to do for Wheeling, and it really paid off.”

Birch added, “We loved the idea of the window decorating contest, and we’re grateful to the Wheeling Arts & Cultural Commission for sponsoring such a wonderful contest. Our staff has all been involved in various organizations and events throughout the city and understands how important the downtown area is and wants to help support it in any way possible.”

Uniglobe decorated the windows with a travel-the-world theme.

Robert Villamagna, local tin and assemblage artist, created the contest award plaque, which will be proudly displayed at Felton CPA for the year, and then passed on to the 2020 winner.

The two top vote-getters far out-numbered the third-place winner, which was ThrIVe Wheeling, which received 60. Winner Felton CPA came in at 174 votes, while Uniglobe Ohio Valley brought in 119 votes. The Bridge Tavern and Grill and Wheeling Heritage Helpers (former Kauffman’s building) tied for fourth with 50 votes each.

“The commission was very pleased with the number of entries. Downtown certainly seemed extra festive with all the decorations,’’ said Betsy Sweeny, a member of the city’s Arts & Cultural Commission. “We hope to see this event grow each year as downtown continues its revitalization.”

She noted that this year’s contest had nearly 30 participants, and over 600 votes were cast online and via paper ballot.

For more information, visit the Arts & Cultural Commission at arts@wheelingwv.gov.

• Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal now serves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.