In a story published this week on TIME.com, the esteemed inventor-cum-youth-collaborator Kris Kringle at Tower City's Kringle's Inventionasium was named one of the nation's 11 best Santas.
"Wearing a red-and-white-striped shirt and green overalls, he sits behind a desk or on a stool instead of a cushiony throne and tells youngsters about his latest invention ideas and invites them to suggest improvements," writes Olivia Waxman, for TIME.
Kringle's Inventionasium, writ larger, is a twist on the traditional "photo-op with Santa" premise and one that feels unique to Northeast Ohio. Here, Santa Claus is not the benevolent seasonal deity, arbiter of behavior and occasional bestower of charcoal. He's Kris — an inventor, a goofy scientist, a guy in the grandfatherly bearded mold of Santas nationwide, but one with the lovable oddball-whimsy of your standard attic chemist.
Housed in Tower City, the Inventionasium is a 35-minute tour which encourages youngsters to interact and get creative in a laboratory of almost Seussian color and concept. Kringle himself is the final stop.
Though it's great fun for the kiddies, the experience also represents a theatrical marriage of some of Cleveland's halmarks: a vibrant arts scene, a cresting innovation economy, a fiendish obsession with the holiday season's finer kitsch.