Stretching your wacko dollar

Sometimes the summer months can be depressing. No cash to spend plus frequent spots of boredom can equal a well-dented groove in the couch. But Michigan’s entertainment isn’t just in watching the sporadic weather change. Some of Michigan’s most unique summertime features are weird and wacky — not to mention cheap.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (31005 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills)

Jeremy Yagoda blames his "father’s insanity" for creating the marvel that people from all around the country come to gawk at.

"He started collecting the stuff as he graduated from U-M," he says. "Since then, it’s become this."

A collection of creepy-looking carnival machines that you might expect to see in the film Big — everything from ancient pinball machines, kiddie rides, ’80s thriving arcade games and stranger wonders such as P.T. Barnum’s Cardiff Giant and a once-working electric chair — reside inside the 5,500 square feet museum. Other machines have been custom-built exclusively for the collection.

Yagoda says that no one has ever attempted an official count of how many of the working machines there are.

"It hovers somewhere around a guess of several hundred," he says. "As my father commonly says, ‘It’s just one big sensory overload.’"

Not only is the museum a good place to explore and spend your pocket change, but it can also be a place to people-watch. Family friend David Copperfield makes a magical appearance every so often, along with famous area athletes.

"We do get a celebrity audience once in a while," he says. "Even Eminem rented it out for his 30th birthday."

During the summer, the museum is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Holiday times vary. For more information, visit or call 248-626-5020.

Dr. Val Kolpakov’s Toothpaste Tube Collection (1227 N. Michigan Ave., Saginaw)

Odds are you’ve probably already seen the World’s Largest Tire on I-94, the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in Frankenmuth and maybe even the World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek. What about the soon-to-be World’s Largest Toothpaste Tube Collection in Saginaw?

No, it’s not official yet, but Dr. Val Kolpakov already has the paperwork in his hands to make it so.

"Why not try and break the record?" he says. "Right now it’s in Germany and I thought, ‘Why not try to bring it to this country?’"

With his move to a new dentist’s office (it has a really big waiting room and plenty of display space), the glass cases will be home to his collection of almost 1,000 tubes of toothpaste, minus the toothbrushes.

"Right now my bedroom is crowded with boxes," he says. "Not to mention, I get samples every day from all over the world."

Some of the main attractions in the tubular collection include Genuine Scotch-Flavored Whiskey toothpaste with 6 percent alcohol content, the Hopalong Cassidy tube and an array of cartoon character-endorsed brands. Although toothbrushes look to be a little out of the doctor’s reach (the current world record hovers around 25,000), Kolpakov has plans to continue other dental-related collections, such as denture containers and oral movie props.

Although the denture containers won’t be displayed yet, visitors can view dental props from the Whole Nine Yards, The Little Rascals, a tube of toothpaste featured in Primary Colors and a gold bridge that appeared in Triple X. "The gold bridge is probably my most valuable piece," he says. "I bought that one on ebay for over $300."

Later in June, Kolpakov will be featured on television’s "Ripley’s Believe It or Not."

"Everyone is a little weird I guess," he says.

The collection will be on display, free of charge, beginning at the end of June. Visit or call 989-799-8362 for more information.

The WKFR "Do-Dah Parade" (downtown Kalamazoo, near Bronson Hospital)

It’s seriously illegal to be serious in Kalamazoo on June 7. With a parade that celebrates the non-serious side of the town, it pokes fun of, well, just about anything.

"It really is just pure silliness," parade coordinator Stacey Bell says. "Last year, the winning float was ‘Mule on Rouge.’"

Other themes for floats have included Monty Python spoofs and any particular year’s news-making happenings.

"We screen the ideas in advance for the floats and participants," Bell says. "Not usually for appropriateness, but more to make sure that they are silly enough."

This is the 21st year of the annual parade, which usually attracts more than 40,000 spectators and 80 to 100 floats and marchers.

"Most parades usually end up as just one big advertisement," she says. "This parade is for people to get a crack out."

The parade begins at 11 a.m. on June 7 in downtown Kalamazoo. For more information on the event, visit or call 269-344-0111. Elysia Smith is a Metro Times editorial intern. E-mail her at

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