Inside Mr. Kringle’s Inventionasium’s secret toy lab, parents and children tour a series of whimsical workshops led by colorfully costumed elf characters. It’s all part of a yearly Yuletide quest to brainstorm, design and invent new toys for Mr. Kringle that’s been happening at Tower City for 13 years.
But this year, even Santa Claus has to social distance. “There was no way with the rules and regulations to make sure that everyone could enjoy the Inventionasium safely,” says artistic director Jimmy Langa. “It just didn’t make for a magical experience.”
A true believer, Langa decided to move the wonder of the Inventionasium online.
Through Dec. 24, families can order a letter or prerecorded message from Mr. Kringle. Parents can personalize these with a child’s name and fun details such as last year’s Christmas gifts or a favorite cookie flavor. There’s also the option to book an e-visit over Zoom for up to 10 minutes and select from 15 different Mr. Kringles, so kids get to meet a Santa who looks like them. “This is the first year that we’re actually able to offer a Kringle of color,” says Langa of this new feature.
Each digital interaction captures the one-of-a-kind spirit of the Inventionasium. “Every e-visit will start with Mr. Kringle putting a toy together and then asking the child’s input,” Langa explains.
Letters also come with a unique series of postmarks that expand on the top-secret toy laboratory’s wacky mythology.
Langa acknowledges a little magic is important now. “People need Christmas, right this very minute,” says Langa. “Mr. Kringle is the bringer of hope, the bringer of joy.”