Today, Marc’s is known to Northern Ohio as a discount drug store known for its low prices; a low-cost empire that has become a staple of bargain shopping. But in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the store branched out. They weren’t just going to be a low-cost competitor of your neighborhood drug store…they were going to be a low-cost alternative to Chuck E. Cheese.
Strange as it now seems, at one point in the ’70s and ’80s, pizza parlors that featured arcades and giant singing robots were all the rage. The two major players were ShowBiz Pizza Place and Chuck E. Cheese. These pizza parlors featured ball-pits, small kiddie rides and arcade games. There were skee-ball machines that would spew out tickets to be exchanged for cheap prizes. (Sure, there were some high-ticket items, but you were just going to blow the five tickets you won on another spider ring.) And, of course, there were the huge robots. Massive, clunky robots dressed mostly as animals, these nightmare-inducing puppet bands would lurch to life every hour. They would tell wheezy jokes, and pretend to play their musical instruments while singing Happy Birthday to whatever celebrating child was in the room. Showbiz had a country-style bear as a mascot, Chuck E. Cheese was a huckster rat. These venues were loud, cramped, germ-laden and the pizza served could barely be classified as “edible”. It was a heaven on earth for kids at the time.
Cut to the late 1980’s. As happens with franchises that grow too quickly too fast, locations started to close down. Fully-furnished pizza wonderlands were going vacant. Enter Marc’s owner, Marc Glassman. Glassman bought six defunct Ohio novelty pizza locations, and re-branded them as “Marc’s Funtime Pizza Place”. Robots were re-skinned, (with Chuck E Cheese becoming a rabbit), murals painted over, and the low-rent pizza replaced with…actually, that stayed the same. Here is a promotional video with two un-enthused employees talking about the fun that could be had at a Marc’s Funtime location, and how to graduate from “Freddy’s Academy of Pizza”. (This was a long time before Five Nights at Freddy’s, a video game about murderous pizza parlor robots, hit stores.)
That brings us to this video, posted over ten years ago by ex-Marc’s Funtime Pizza employee John Short. The video shows a young, unnamed couple renting out an entire Funtime Pizza…for their wedding day.
This is a classic style of “amateur camcorder” footage. It has all the hallmarks: Long, mysterious, blurry footage of rooms. Unsettling silences, with only the static hum of the camera providing any soundtrack. People who are not happy to be on camera.
Yes, it’s a completely normal wedding video of the area, with relatives making small talk, shaky close-ups of table settings, and mullet haircuts. But, of course, it isn’t a normal wedding. This is a wedding video that features loving shots of skee-ball machines, and centers around the bride being given away by a person in a giant parrot costume. (We will assume that whoever is inside the costume is not, in fact, the bride’s father.) You can see owner Marc Glassman at 5:50, taking photos with the bride and groom.
It’s all very mysterious, strange and very, very Ohio. Short, the Funtime employee who shot the video at the Mentor location, doesn’t have any memory of the happy couple’s identity. If you have any further information on who was in this wedding video, please, please reach out to us. We need to know, for the sake of history and bargain-loving Ohioians everywhere.