Castle Noel owner Mark Klaus said he has spent millions of dollars to acquire what is believed to be America's largest year-round, indoor Christmas attraction. "Actually, we're just a big family project gone wild," he said Thursday as Castle Noel hosted the monthly meeting of the Medina County Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit business group.
Klaus said he has grand designs for his property, which reaches to the intersection of South Court Street and East Smith Road at 260 S. Court St.
"Someday, we hope to have a boutique hotel on the corner," he said.
He'd also like to add a two-level parking deck.
"We could increase our bus business by multiples if we can get that hotel for people to stay in," Klaus said.
His wife, Dana, said in the last week, four Anderson bus tours visited Castle Noel, located at 260 S. Court St. After the tour of the Christmas museum, people visited Root Candles, Miss Molly's Tea Room, Dan's Dogs and Cool Beans, among others.
One tour group stayed in Medina for five hours.
"That's what Castle Noel does," Dana Klaus said.
"After they come into Castle Noel, they stay in the area. We're bringing in people from Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The economic growth from Castle Noel is far-reaching. Mark and I work
15 hours a day, seven days a week. That impact is directly being affected."
A 'picture postcard'
Mark Klaus described Medina as a "picture postcard."
"We wanted to find a place where we could get people to come from all over the Midwest and all around the country," he said.
Klaus spent 23 years selling artwork on the Home Shopping Network and QVC where he likely honed his outgoing behavior and flair for the dramatic.
He said the impetus of Castle Noel came from his grandfather and father. Both used to decorate in astonishing ways, including the time his father chained a Christmas sleigh to the ceiling of his living room.
"It was a lot of fun," Klaus said. "People came from all over to see it - family, friends, relatives and neighbors."
Klaus said his favorite day was when his father's cousin, who was a nun, would bring all her fellow nuns over to the house around Christmas.
"They'd be chattering along and having a great time," he said. "My dad would ask one question to all those nuns that would make them silent all at the same time: 'What can I get you all to drink?'
"It was in all those moments of joy that Castle Noel was born."
Castle Noel (which costs $17 for visitors on weekdays, $18 on weekends), Alien Vacation Mini Golf ($11) and a gift shop populate the complex.
"We're proud to say at Castle Noel we house the world's largest privately held collection of Christmas movie props and costumes," Klaus said. "(We have) millions of dollars worth of animated New York City Christmas windows. That is a big deal in New York. â€¦ They are created to be a gift to New York, a moment in time."
Among the movie props on display are Will Farrell's "Elf" costumes and Ralphie's famous Santa Claus Mountain slide from "A Christmas Story."
Klaus said Castle Noel once had a 101-year-old woman ride the slide. She showed up to Castle Noel in a wheelchair and insisted on riding the slide.
He said he asked her is this is something you really want to do.
"'I'm 101 years old, I'll do what I want,'" she replied. "So I shoved her down the slide.
"More than 50,000 people viewed that online. The governor's staff also saw it and brought (Gov. John Kasich) in for a private ride down the slide. He also wanted to see Cousin Eddy's motor home (from 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation')."
- Tonjua McCullough, controller at Blair Rubber Co. in Seville, won the Association of Rubber and Plastics Manufacturers' writing contest recently. Her topic was the importance of manufacturing and education.
"They gave us $2,000 to be able to use any way we wanted to, as far as education and manufacturing," McCullough said. "I've been stressing the fact that our career center really needs a manufacturing program."
Blair donated the money to the Medina County Career Center on Thursday.
"We're working hard to update our facilities," MCCC Superintendent Steve Chrisman said. "We completely redid auto collision and cosmetology to the tune of about $1.6 million between the two labs.
"We are going to redo commercial truck and auto tech this year. The building has come a long way."
- The Akron chapter of a business counseling group has announced its first events for the new year.
SCORE, originally known as Service Corps of Retired Executives, provides free, confidential workshops and advice to help entrepreneurs and small businesses start, grow, compete and become more profitable.
SCORE will hold its first workshop 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Medina County University Center, 6300 Technology Lane, Medina. The topic will be "Starting Your Own Business."
An informational meeting will be 8 a.m. Jan. 10, at the county Administration Building, 144 N. Broadway St., Medina. To make a reservation, call (330) 722-9215 or email at email@example.com.
"It's an all-volunteer organization," said Alec P. Morrison, Medina chairman of SCORE. "We do this out of the goodness of our heart because we love it. We really love small businesses. I believe the future of employment in America is small businesses."
SCORE was founded in 1965 and the Akron chapter serves Medina, Portage, Summit and Wayne counties. For information, call (330) 379-3163, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit akron.score.org.
- Dave Mueller, CEO of RICO Equipment Inc., will become president of the Economic Development Corp., succeeding Victoria Tifft, president and chief executive officer of Clinical Research Management of Hinckley Township.
Joe Kohmann, group finance leader and treasurer of Westfield Insurance, will become vice president. Philpott Rubber Co.'s Stacy Bonitz will be treasurer, and Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Bethany Dentler will remain secretary.
The group's next member meeting will be Jan. 19, at Mapleside Farms in Brunswick.
It will be a joint meeting with the Northern Medina County Chamber Alliance, formerly the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce. An official from Huntington Bank will give an economic forecast.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or email@example.com.