What is a “Glockenspiel?”

Last weekend, Grapevine introduced the world to a new glockenspiel atop the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) building.  Our first thought, “What the heck is a glockenspiel?”  (Other than, it is kind of fun to say.)  Note:  part of our job around here is to answer the questions on everyone’s minds.

Google is your best friend when you need answers to questions like these.  Let the search begin.  According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, a glockenspiel is:

a percussion instrument consisting of a series of graduated metal bars tuned to the chromatic scale and played with two hammers.

You can find glockenspiels for sale on Ebay and Amazon ranging in price from around 30 bucks to up over 500.  They look a lot like a xylophone to the untrained eye.

Our search also uncovered that Glockenspiel is a popular fine dining establishment in St. Paul, Minnesota.

So what does this have to do with the new clock tower above the CVB building?

Our search continued to find a YouTube video about a clock in Switzerland made of finely tuned bells with Swiss characters that come out of the clock at designated times of day.  You can see the full video right here:

Apparently, there is another glockenspiel in Munich, Germany in the town square. Full video right here.

So in Europe, there are at least two clocks with finely tuned bells where historical characters come out of the clocks at various times of day.  Interesting, we are getting warmer.

Grapevine, TexasIn those terms, we now understand better what the glockenspiel is in Grapevine, Texas (allegedly, the first of its kind in the United States). In Grapevine, two train robbers that look like cowboys come out of the clock tower a couple of times a day and re-enact a gun fight or a train robbery of some sort.  Are there any finely tuned bells in Grapevine’s clock tower?  Not that we have heard of.

So what does the new glockenspiel have to do with the history of Grapevine? Not a lot from what we can gather. It is a uniquely manufactured tourist attraction sort of like the world’s largest rubber band ball in Eugene, Oregon or Vulcan the Iron Man in Birmingham, Alabama.

It is something unique for people to see as they come through Main Street in downtown Grapevine.  So in the fact that it is unique and a tourist attraction, it is much like Grapevine.

Top photo credit:  abbyladybug on flickr

Bottom photo credit:  Dystopos on flickr


  1. I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!

  2. Grapevine has now officially turned into Six Flags.

  3. 3 Questions:

    1- How much does this ‘glockenspiel’ cost the taxpayers?

    2- Was this ‘glockenspiel’ paid for by the taxpayers? {whom are being forced (w/o voting) to go into debt?}

    3- When this mechanical contraption brakes, who is going to fix it? Because, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the parts aren’t on the shelf within 2,000 miles from Main St.

    • 1. The robot gunfighters cost $161,840. The vertical clock and temperature apparatus was $63,915.
      2. Yes, paid by taxpayers.
      3. Good question. I wish I knew the answer.

  4. Don’t forget the cost of the viewing plaza. How much was that again?

  5. Joe,
    To sum up this whole “fauxing” mess, the taxpayers have a nearly quarter of a million dollars invested in a faux “Glockenspiel” which, in turn broadcasts “faux history”, all crowning the top of the CVB Building which was “faux financed”?
    Although there is some serendipity with all those “fauxs”, in one place, one is compelled to ask…”What was Mr. McCallum referring to when he was quoted by the reporter for the Community Impact newspaper in March 2012, that his “next big project, that will be his proudest to date, if he can accomplish it..”?
    It is clear from the article, he was not referring to his three fauxs, referenced above. We all need to demand answers, and the price tag, in advance, this time!

  6. I Just received below notification from the City of Grapevine in a periodic email notification. Why does this not surprise me? Seems to me this is Standard Operating Procedure for much of what the CVB does. I do think the concept of Robbers is a good theme for the CVB to have over their building though, because as I see it they are robbing the citizens of Grapevine blind.

    Grapevine’s Glockenspiel
    This one-of-a-kind frontier Clock Tower featuring the Would-Be Train Robbers, Nat Barrett and Willy Majors. Recently installed on May 18, 2012, the Glockenspiel is still undergoing mechanical refinements and testing. Due to these processes as well as weather conditions, the characters may not emerge from the Tower as scheduled. During testing, Nat and Willy may emerge from the Tower at unscheduled times throughout the day. It may take several weeks to complete this testing at which time the advertised schedule will take effect. Please continue to check grapevinetexasusa.com for the current status of Nat and Willy. Thank you for participating in this historic process.

  7. That is pretty bad.

  8. This is not a glockenspiel any more than Grapevine is city whose history is that of a wine producing region. AGAIN, a run amok, autocrat with delusions of divinity is creating history rather than building on Grapevine’s true history. The saddest part of this whole atrocity is that our elected officials and city leaders have been allowing this to happen. Seems to me our poor city has a passel of Joe Paturnos just turning their heads.