MEDINA – A piece of Christmas movie history was discovered to have been damaged overnight at Castle Noel Sept. 25.
A juvenile was charged with the crime, a fifth-degree felony, according to a Medina Police report Sept. 25.
Reports state that the vehicle’s rear-mounted ladder was ripped off, as well as a tail light and the antenna being smashed and a metal fender bent.
Known as the RV in the 1989 movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” belonging to Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, the 1973 Ford Condor II motor home has become the marquee attraction at the Christmas movie museum on South Court Street since it opened last year.
It is most commonly associated with the antics of Quaid’s character in the film, which include releasing the vehicle’s sewage into a neighborhood storm drain, holding the spewing hose and wearing nothing but a small robe and a floppy winter cap while drinking a beer during the early morning hours.
Mark Klaus, Castle Noel owner, said he was devastated when he arrived to Castle Noel the morning of Sept. 25.
He found a fence partially broken and debris from the vehicle strewn about the back lot where it is parked, including camping gear that was stuffed into the cargo holds, which Klaus didn’t know was there but assumed it belonged to the previous owner.
A security camera was installed in the back lot where it is parked because of this incident.
“Frustrating ... My heart sank. It’s my baby,” said Klaus. “And for what that thing means to people, you have no idea the response that motor home gets.”
“I don’t know why anyone would do something like this ... You wouldn’t expect that to happen anywhere,” Klaus’ brother Gene added.
Klaus said the RV alone attracts guests from throughout the country, who have even arrived in costume just to take a classic photo in front of the RV with the sewage hose in hand.
“I’ve had people just hug it. It’s one of the most emotional things we have here and it makes people happy because that movie is so loved. It brings all sorts of silliness,” Klaus said. “We’ve had senior citizen ladies picking up the hose and taking that photo just for laughs.”
Klaus said while he was disappointed the vandal decided to make that choice, he knows it’s not indicative of the type of town Medina is.
“We love this town and I can’t tell you how many times people have come out and into our store and apologized that this happened,” Klaus said. “I would have not thought any less of Medina had nobody apologized ... People have told me ‘we’re heartbroken just like you are.’”
Klaus admitted the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but said he was lucky it wasn’t worse, as he said the ‘73 Condor is one of the rarest motor homes still in existence today.
Klaus said he contacted the RV/Motor Home Hall of Hame in Indiana to ask if they had any leads on replacement parts.
He was told it is “nearly impossible” to find them.
“I found one in Norway completely restored for $65,000, but that’s a little expensive for a vehicle for parts,” Klaus said. “We’re very thankful it wasn’t worse.”
Klaus said he and his wife, Dana, wanted to thank the community for the outpouring of “love and support” in the wake of this incident.
“We would love to see everyone back at Castle Noel this Christmas and come see our attraction ‘Alien Vacation Mini Golf’ next month to answer the age-old question of what happens when a family of aliens crash land on Earth and meet Santa Claus,” Klaus said.