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Filling the sidewalk with clowns, mimes and a live band, Commerce Bank celebrated the opening of its newly renovated branch on Friday and Saturday.

The bank announced over the summer that it would move into 3735 Walnut St. -- the former location of Campus Copy and the storefront next door to Commerce Bank's original spot at 3731 Walnut.

Amidst a crowd including a unicyclist, a juggler and several caricaturists, Branch Manager Amber Peipher said the carnival-like celebrations were a Commerce Bank tradition.

"It would be more, but we don't have the space to put up a tent," she said.

The fare also included free hot dogs and soda, with caterers prepared to serve 6,000 people over the two-day event.

"It's so lively... it's really exciting," Engineering senior Joanne Lau said. "I'm going to tell all my friends to come now."

Enthusiastic as well, bank employees boasted that the expanded space and revamped facilities will improve customer satisfaction.

"It's gorgeous... it's worth every penny," Assistant Branch manager Shane Mitzer said. "Our old store fit in that conference room."

Placing the renovation costs in the millions of dollars, Peipher said the new facility -- which at 5,520 square feet is more than twice the size of the old one -- has more teller stations, customer service desks and waiting space.

In its former space, the bank had often been the target of robberies -- including two that occurred in the same week last April as well as two in 2001 and two in 2000. Following the incidents last year, security officials from the bank met with University Police to make plans to improve safety, and established a contract with Allied Security.

But such concerns were not the focus at Friday's opening.

With a wall-length mural of a 1926 football game at Franklin Field, the remodeled branch hosts a plasma television monitor, which will display both interest rates and information about upcoming football games.

"Everyone is walking in and they're kind of amazed," Peipher said, also emphasizing the extended storefront, modernized lighting and intricate ceiling.

Noting, "we're not so much students anymore," Peipher added that the branch is also marketing itself to neighborhood residents.

A new addition aimed at pleasing children is the "Penny Arcade" -- a kid-friendly, and free, coin counter.

Of all the new features, expanded space seemed to be the most important to people.

Praising the space, Mitzer said employees "don't have to share file drawers anymore."

Also pleased, Katherine Strunk, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, enjoyed both the carnival perks and the more long-term benefits the expanded branch will bring.

"This is my bank already and now I can actually move around in it," Strunk said.

Commerce Bank was begun by '67 Wharton alumnus Vernon Hill and has been on campus since 1995.

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