Last week I asked: Where can you see Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas windows from past years?
In Medina, Ohio.
What do you do when your last name is “Klaus?”
Mark Klaus of Medina, Ohio, collected all things associated with Christmas until his collection became so big he had to open Castle Noel.
I am always looking for something different to do when I travel.
I was in Hudson, Ohio, for the 4th of July and discovered Castle Noel in Medina only 25 miles away and it is only 30 miles south of Cleveland. I loved the Medinas Main Street which has been restored and is part their Historic District.
In the center of town in what was once the Medina United Methodist Church is a place with “America’s Largest Year Round Indoor Christmas Entertainment Attraction.”
The fantasy world of Mark Klaus (that is his real name!) is an accumulation of years of compulsive collection that has become a family obsession – one that everyone can enjoy, young and old.
My visit started with an introduction video followed by a guided tour.
There were dozens of photos and other Christmas related items.
There are movie posters and vintage LP Christmas records ranging from Elvis to Glen Campbell to The Carpenters gracing the walls of Castle Noel, but other items on display are truly unique.
In one walkthrough area there were window display filled with thousands of toys from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The guide challenged us to look to see which ones we had.
Guess I am a bit too old because I found myself saying, “I bought that one, and that one, and that one for my children.”
There were only a few I saw from when I was a kid.
Sprinkled into the magic is the Blizzard Vortex which was a whirling walk that felt like it was moving but wasn’t.
It was bit unnerving.
The Santa’s Chimney Squeeze let us feel what it was like for Santa to make his way down the chimney.
When Klaus was a younger he performed what he calls “Santa run-bys,” where he would bolt through yards in his neighborhood at appointed times so the children who lived there could get just a glimpse of the Santa on his rounds.
There is the Grinch’s larger-than-life sleigh used in the 2000 movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
In fact the bag of toys on the sleigh was so big that, at first, I had a hard time figuring out what it was.
A video explained the difficult technical problems in making Santa’s reindeer fly and look realistic.
There was Will Ferrell’s costume from the 2003 film “Elf” on display, and Cousin Eddie’s made-to-look-rusty RV from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” parked in a courtyard behind the museum.
The holiday displays in the windows of NYC’s high-end department stores have always added magic to the Christmas season.
The stores, fearful that they would later end up in other stores, would often have them destroyed when the season was over.
Mr. Klaus was able, under certain stipulations such as one that he would never sell them, able to bring several entire window displays to Castle Noel for people to enjoy for years to come.
The tour included a stop at Mr. Klaus’ workshop where I could pick out props from some movies and try to imagine what more he and his helpers were going to create.
No visit would be complete without a ride down the slide from “A Christmas Story.”
Tip: get prepaid tickets on-line because there are times when the tours are sold out and walk-ins cannot be accommodated.
Travel Trivia Tease™: Where can you get your summer thrills?
Look for the answer next week.
Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!