Time travel: A cuckoo idea

December 2014 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Stu Rasmussen at work on the hands of the cuckoo clock proposed for the front of the Mount Angel Performing Arts Center.

Stu Rasmussen at work on the hands of the cuckoo clock proposed for the front of the Mount Angel Performing Arts Center.

By Brenna Wiegand

If there’s any place a giant, unpredictable cuckoo clock might fly, it’s Mount Angel.

Knowing it includes a facade renovation for the building deemed “the shabbiest in downtown Mount Angel” by its owner makes it all the better.

Stu Rasmussen purchased Mount Angel Performing Arts Center in 1982.

“The inside is gorgeous but the outside is still pretty ratty,” Rasmussen said. “We’re taking the front off and turning it into a very large cuckoo clock. It will go back an hour for every token inserted and stay there long enough for people to take a couple (video) selfies looking over their shoulder at the clock as it’s going backwards.

“People come to town for the clocks and the whole idea is to get people in town for more time than it takes to watch the Glockenspiel running,” Rasmussen said. Beyond the chiming clocks at Saint Mary’s and the railroad station, the Glockenspiel goes off at 11 a.m.; 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Timing the cuckoo’s appearance to complement these creates a reason for visitors to stick around, Rasmussen said.

“It’s specifically designed to be a tourist attraction. Its hands may go forward or backwards; they may dance a polka; there may be a fat lady singing; there may be an oompah band; there could be more than one cuckoo up in the cuckoo’s nest; we’re not sure yet,” he said. “…but it is definitely going to be something you have to witness first hand.”

He’s had the idea 15 years and, disappointing as it was not to be re-elected Silverton mayor, he now has the time.

Rasmussen is in the process of raising the $13,000 needed to get the facade down to a blank canvas by offering $10 and $50 limited edition Big Crazy Cuckoo Clock Time Travel Souvenir Medallions. The plan is for merchants to distribute ordinary clock tokens with a minimum purchase.

“That gives me 50 cents to pay for the electricity every time somebody uses the cuckoo because I don’t see any way that this is actually going to make money for me; it’s just kind of a fun project.”

Rasmussen would like to see an official dedication for the clock at September’s 50th anniversary Mount Angel Oktoberfest.

“The nice thing about it is because this clock will travel backwards through time, if I don’t make the September date I can just turn time back until I do,” Rasmussen said.

Clock tokens available
Big Cuckoo Clock limited edition medallions are $50 for first-day- of-issue numbered medallions (includes 10 standard issue tokens) and $10 limited issue medallions (with two standard tokens). They are available at www.bigcuckoo.com or by mail. Send checks to “Big Cuckoo Project,” PO Box 1130, Mount Angel, OR 97362.

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