It's about time


Randy L. McKee photo

You can’t get much for free these days, but if you venture to downtown Sugarcreek, Ohio, and make your way along Main Street, you’ll find a sight that’s sure to put a smile on your face without lifting a cent from your pocket.

That was the goal of Sugarcreek Mayor Clayton Weller when he first learned the village would be gifted with a local treasure — The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock.

Built in 1972, the 24-foot-tall timepiece transitioned to Sugarcreek from its former home at Alpine Alpa restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio, thanks to Walnut Creek Cheese who purchased and donated the piece to the village in 2012.

“After it arrived,” Weller said, “it needed a lot of repair work, so a team of locals got together and made it happen.”

Residents and businesses pitched in to see that the stopped clock could start ticking again. SUPERB Industries provided the computer program that makes the cuckoo croon every 15 minutes and reminds the dancers and band when it’s time to take the stage at the top and bottom of each hour.

Once finished, it was Weller’s wish to make the timepiece available to visitors free of charge.

“It’s frustrating when families have to reach into their wallets every time they go somewhere,” Weller said, and so it became the centerpiece on the village square.

Most clocks have faces, but The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock boasts at least seven — those of the two whirling dancers and five Bavarian band members that were hand-carved in Schwartzwald, Germany, more than 40 years ago. Those seven faces and their sweet Swiss abode were updated this season thanks to Weller and the folks responsible for restoring and maintaining one of Ohio’s most unique attractions.

In the fall, the dancers visited Mahlon Troyer of MT Graphics who repaired and repainted the figures, adding airbrushed details like fresh fingernails, eyebrows, and rosy cheeks. Once they returned, Weller was so impressed with the finished product he asked Troyer to give the band members makeovers, too. The bass drum now sports the logo for The Swiss Hilltoppers, local musicians who were once a staple at area events.

When the sun is shining, it’s not unusual to see 20-30 people strolling the streets or sitting on benches waiting for the dancers and band to make their appearance. Visitors tell Weller and his team how they visited the clock in its former location each year. Adults who adored it in their youth arrive with their own children or grandchildren in tow.

“They say it’s the best it has ever looked,” Weller said. “As mayor, that makes me feel good.”

Lee Ann Miller, Sugarcreek’s marketing administrator, said the charm of The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock has breathed new life into the village.

“Town pride is a special thing,” Miller said. “Our city, state and country officials are important because they set the tone for the community. Clayton has worked hard as mayor, and part of the success and joy the clock is bringing has been spearheaded by him. It’s a sweet thing that brings visitors to our village and costs nothing to enjoy.”