SANTA CLARA — The city of Santa Clara was given a new reason to celebrate Monday night as community members gathered across from City Hall on Santa Clara Drive for the unveiling of the new glockenspiel clock tower.
An event years in the making, the unveiling was seen as a giant party for Santa Clara and the culmination of a dream for councilwoman Mary Jo “Tode” Hafen.
Approximately 12 years ago, Hafen was in a budget meeting where those in attendance were discussing their wish lists for the city, said Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg.
Among things of more immediate import for the city, Hafen’s list included a glockenspiel clock. At the time, most people had no idea what a glockenspiel clock was, and the city was still trying to figure out a way to just fix the potholes, Rosenberg said in his address Monday. Still, Hafen never gave up her dream.
When City Hall was built, a square of space directly below the clock was left empty in case Hafen’s dream could ever become a reality, Rosenberg added.
“At that time there was about 150,000 reasons it didn’t go in,” Hafen said. “However we still left a spot there with the hopes that someday we’d get it.”
For more than a decade Hafen held on to hope that there would eventually be a glockenspiel in Santa Clara, but things didn’t start coming together until about a year ago when members of the Santa Clara government were visiting Midway, a sister city of sorts.
Midway has a glockenspiel clock, and Mayor Colleen Bonner – also in attendance Monday night – invited the Santa Clara representatives to see how it worked.
Hafen said they climbed up into the clock tower and saw how it was designed, and it was then that she thought that Santa Clara could do it too.
What is a glockenspiel clock?
A glockenspiel clock uses moving figurines to reenact a skit or play that pays tribute to a town’s history. At certain scheduled times, the clock plays music, and the figurines appear from inside the clock.
One of the most famous examples of a glockenspiel clock is the Rathaus-Glockenspiel located in Munich, Germany. This tourist attraction in Marienplatz in the heart of Munich dates back to 1908 and consits of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figurines that depict two different histories of the area.
In the case of Santa Clara’s new glockenspiel, the figurines pay tribute to the heritage of the Swiss members of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints who settled the town.
Like Santa Clara, Midway was also settled by Swiss pioneers, and its clock is touted as an authentic Swiss-style glockenspiel.
A lot of care went into designing the figurines to be sure they were accurate representations of the culture of the people from Switzerland, said Ester West, a Santa Clara resident of Swiss descent who designed the figurines using Adobe Illustrator. West passed the designs on to Will Camp, the operations manager at the St. George location of Czarnowski, who created and built the finished product with his team.
Camp lives directly behind Santa Clara City Hall and will be able to hear the music from his home each day, he said.
A community effort
West and Camp are only two of the many people who helped bring the colorful clock to life.
“We are a community of very talented, generous and fun-loving people,” Hafen said.
Hafen described the efforts of transforming the glockenspiel from an idea into a reality as a “miracle.”
“Here’s where another miracle in Santa Clara begins,” Hafen said. “I am constantly amazed and humbled at the willingness of our citizens to step up and give back to our community.”
From pitching the idea, creating garage-type doors to house the figurines inside the tower, designing the figures and mechanizing them, Hafen said a host of citizens from the Santa Clara and the greater Washington County area stepped up to offer their services, skills and monetary donations.
Because of the community effort, the clock was designed, built and installed almost entirely on donated time and money, Hafen said who added that it is truly a gift.
Though Hafen said they are still tweaking some things – including the volume of the music – the glockenspiel clock tower will play every hour on the hour beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m.
The glockenspiel clock was unveiled ahead of Santa Clara’s traditional “Swiss Days” celebration, which will be held Thursday through Saturday.
A host of activities will take place throughout the space of three days, including a mayor’s walk, pioneer crafts and games, a community dinner, a free concert by Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband, a 5K, a car show, a parade and more.
For more information about Swiss Days including a full activity schedule, parking and shuttle locations visit the Santa Clara Swiss Days webpage.
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