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Sugarcreek Ohio 44681
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World's Largest Cuckoo Clock
The Cuckoo Clock had its first debut run at Sugarcreek's Christmas in the Village on Friday, November 23. Check out the video on Youtube by going to: World's Largest Cuckoo Clock Comes to Life

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Take at look at The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock

 

By Beverly Keller

Editor

The Budget Newspaper

 

SUGARCREEK – What’s that sound from high above the village street? Is it the sound of a plane? Is it a giant able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

 

Why no, it is the gentle sound of a cuckoo bird that has come from his home high atop the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in downtown Sugarcreek to alert those in the area that the time is drawing near.

 

And just like that, the show begins. The dancers are dancing. The water is flowing. The polka band is a tune, a-playing. The show can be seen, heard and enjoyed every 30 minutes on the square in downtown Sugarcreek.

 

The road to Sugarcreek, however, was not paved in gold. Instead, it took a lot of work on behalf of many forces to make sure the clock could made it to Sugarcreek in one piece – well actually two pieces to be reassembled later.

 

The story of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock begins in 1972 at Alpine Alpa Restaurant in Ohio. The eatery was built by the Hans and Alice Grossenklaus family in 1935. In the early 70s, the family wanted to build an attraction that would get more people in the door and they settled upon the idea of building the World’s Largest Cuckoo clock high upon the hill behind the restaurant. And so it was born – a 24-foot tall clock. It is interesting to note that the dancing figures, as well as the five-piece band, were actually hand-carved and created to move like robots in Schwartzwald, Germany. The piece was created to move at the top and bottom of every hour as the dancers “danced” and the band “played” to a Bavarian polka tune.

 

Fast forward to 2007, when the clock was in a state of disrepair. The restaurant had changed hands and was known as Grandma’s Alpine Homestead. Years of weather on the top of a hill had taken its toll. There was rotten wood and the pond had rotted through even more pieces of the clock – leaving it a rotting mess. The Hampton Hotel chain selected the piece as one of its landmarks to save in its apply named “Save-A-Landmark” program and work began in August 2007 to do several things in the course of just two weeks. The sponsorship included a $20,000 cash grant and lots of volunteers.

 

For years it had been sitting high and mighty at the top of a staircase – making it hard for those with handicaps or movement problems to enjoy the beauty. The decision was made to move the clock to ground level and with the help of two cranes, it was carefully moved. The job was much harder than anyone believed it would be as more rotten wood was found beneath the structure. It took every bit of that $20,000 to restore the clock and get it up and running for everyone to enjoy.

When the newly refurbished clock was unveiled, more than 80 people had pitched in to help and donated hundreds of hours of work together. They varnished and stained and oiled the wood on the clock. A new pond idea was constructed that allowed water to flow back around the water wheel to hopefully alleviate some of the problems that were attributed to the pond of pooling water.

 

Just two years later the restaurant closed. Everything was auctioned off to the highest bidder – including the clock. It was purchased by the owner of Walnut Creek Cheese, Mark Coblentz for just over $15,000 at the auction that day. No work was done to move it. It sat and weathered until a clear plan came together. At the time, Coblentz noted his goal was to see the clock stay local.

 

Meanwhile, in Sugarcreek, the wheels in the head of Lavon Daugherty were turning. He started talking and making plans and people started listening. A group came together to start raising funds, one dollar at a time, to bring the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock to Sugarcreek. Daugherty approached Coblentz to see if he was open to the idea and was given the nod of approval.

 

Work by Sonny King and Dwight VanFossen as well as Dave Mishler and Freeman Mullet began with reckless abandon in Wilmot to prepare the clock to be moved. They deconstructed some of the surroundings to allow it to be easily picked up. They also disconnected all the wiring to allow the clock to be detached from the top of the structure so it could be easily moved.

 

Berlin Contractors began the move bright and early on Tuesday, July 6, 2010. It was placed on a vacant lot on Factory Street.

 

The committee continued to meet and the work began. A list of parts needed was created. A list of people to talk to was formed. Ideas on where to place the clock and how to care for it were put to paper. Votes were taken

 

No matter how hot the weather was, a team of men worked. They replaced rotten wood, installed new pieces of carpet and worked to create a shell that would help the clock make it through winter in Sugarcreek. A raffle was held and money was collected to cover the costs of the restoration work in hopes of finding a permanent home in the Village of Sugarcreek. Meanwhile behind the scenes, a group of volunteers including Garaway High School art teacher Mallory Gerstacker worked to paint the figurines that were restored thanks to the woodworking talents of Mishler and VanFossen.

 

The Village of Sugarcreek itself got involved and soon negotiations with a property owner began. A sight was purchased in downtown – on the square and in the blink of an eye, it was leveled. A base was poured and plans were in the works to move the clock up Main Street and into its permanent home.

 

And just like clock work, a crane came bright and early Wednesday, May 30 and the giant clock embarked upon a new journey – one that would take it to a place where it can be admired from up close or afar – on the square in downtown Sugarcreek. The hours of labor it took to line up the clock just right left those watching on the edge. However, the applause began as soon as the top of the cock was nested firmly into place. The town cheered and the smiles on the faces of those who worked so hard to make it happen were as big as they could be.

 

This story is more than just about a clock. It is about a community. They worked together. There were volunteers who stepped up to make the clock a reality. There was a mayor – Clayton Weller – who did not give up or give in. There were setbacks. There were problems. There were roadblocks. However, he didn’t give up. The community didn’t give up. Now, the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock is in downtown Sugarcreek for all to see and enjoy. It operates throughout the late spring, summer and early fall seasons until the weather threatens to freeze the water wheel.

 

For more information about Sugarcreek, go to www.villageofsugarcreek .com or find them on Facebook by “liking” Sugarcreek. For other travel information, call the Sugarcreek Information Center at 330-852-4113.

 

 

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