Like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” children can swoosh down the slide from the movie made in Cleveland and families can film themselves in classic Christmas scenes.
It’s all possible at Castle Noel, a museum dedicated to Hollywood films celebrating the holiday season by Hinckley Township residents Mark and Dana Klaus.
The museum opened Friday night following the lighting of the Christmas tree on Medina’s Public Square for the city’s 29th Candlelight Walk.
“We’re thrilled to have Mark and Dana bring this amazing collection to Medina,” said Matt Wiederhold, Main Street Medina’s executive director. “We’re confident it’s going to make Medina a national destination for the holidays, and we’re doubly excited to have Castle Noel premier in conjunction with opening night of the 29th Candlelight Walk.”
The project began in Brecksville in 2008, when the Klauses opened a temporary Christmas Movieland museum that featured hundreds of Christmas movie photos, props including the sleigh and reindeer from the opening scene of “Miracle on 34th Street,” and props and costumes from “The Santa Clause” and “Elf.”
But when Medina United Methodist Church moved to its new location on Foote Road in Medina Township, the 135-year old church building at 260 S. Court St. presented the perfect permanent home for thousands of Christmas props.
“I told my brother, ‘This is the building’,” Gene Klaus remembered telling Mark. “What better than an old church to have Christmas year-round?”
The Court Street location is billed as “America’s Largest Christmas Indoor Entertainment Attraction.”
Among the displays are the Klauses’ collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes, including the big red slide from “A Christmas Story,” Cousin Eddie’s RV from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” an “I Had That” toy display, and Christmas window displays from Higbee’s in Cleveland and New York City’s Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales and Macy’s.
There is also a blizzard vortex tunnel; a chimney squeeze room, where kids can see how Santa practices to get down the chimney on Christmas Eve; and a green room that lets children and families be filmed as participants in classic Christmas movie scenes.
And the slide from “A Christmas Story” is open for rides.
“They’re just thrilled to be the big attraction because of the way the city loves Christmas,” Gene Klaus said. “Mark is just hoping the city will embrace him the way he’s embraced Christmas.”
Mayor Dennis Hanwell said he expects Mark Klaus will be as welcome in Medina as his jolly namesake.
“The city’s past decorations and lights and draw to Medina as a destination place for Christmas compliments Castle Noel and we feel that Castle Noel’s opening and the folks coming to visit it will also compliment the square,” he said. “We really hope we’re going to help one another and I really think that was strong consideration for Mark Klaus.”
Gene Klaus said the attraction already has gained not only national but international attention. Fifteen people arrived from Connecticut for the opening and later this holiday season, Mark Klaus is flying in a party from Germany who saw Castle Noel on the Internet.
Castle Noel will be open 365 days a year. A gift shop is open next door as well.
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.