To celebrate the holidays, Patterson (Ga.) Bank spares no expense.

The bank has set up an oversize toy train-the Patterson Express-on the front lawn of its Waycross, Ga., branch. It's all part of a spirited, three-branch, Yuletide celebration that includes 200,000 holiday lights, robotic elves, and carolers.

"We try to do something for the holidays at every location," said Clayton M. Thomas, director of business development at the $65 million- asset bank. "But the train is our big attraction."

Mr. Thomas conceded that the display, which has cost the bank "tens of thousands of dollars over the years," probably is not worth the expense. "There are plenty of more effective ways to get business with the money we spend on this," he said. "But few would be more fun."

Train rides are free, but donations to local charities are requested. Conductors from the local high school are on hand every afternoon except for Sundays to give the rides, and kids are allowed to ride along the oval track as long as they like.

The train does attract people to the branch. Last year a family drove 105 miles, from Hinesville, Ga., to see and ride on the train. And they were not the only unexpected guests to show up.

"Some of our competitors at other banks are the first ones in line to have their kids ride the train," Mr. Thomas said.

- Louis Whiteman


Wainwright Bank and Trust Co. shared the stage with some pretty big names recently in accepting a social responsibility award from the magazine Business Ethics.

The Boston community bank was recognized for, among other things, its community development certificate of deposit-in which deposited funds are steered toward affordable housing and similar projects-and its practice of offering employee benefits to same-sex partners. Other recipients of this year's award: pharmaceutical powerhouse SmithKline Beecham and car wax giant S.C. Johnson & Co.

"We were surprised and honored to be in such great company," said Steven F. Young, senior vice president at $354 million-asset Wainwright.

Founded in 1987 Wainwright offers a host of products that support social responsibility, including a credit card plan that contributes 1% of all purchases to programs supporting youths, social justice for gays, and women's issues. It is only the second bank in Business Ethics' 11-year history to get the award.

The other was BankAmerica Corp., in 1996.

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