Mechanical elves return to ‘Santa’s Magical Workshop’ in Thomasville

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- When Thomasville celebrates the Christmas season in a few weeks, the city will welcome back a family favorite.

The Thomasville City Beautification Committee raised $50,000 to refresh and re-imagine "Santa's Magical Workshop."

Mechanical elves from the 1960s will once again fill the display windows of the old Belk department store.

Denise Barnes, member of the Thomasville City Beautification Committee, can barely contain her excitement as she watches the elves return to their holiday hang out.

"It's just unbelievably exciting to see this coming together after all of these months," Barnes said. "Seeing it in the window and not in a photograph is surreal."

Twelve elves were in the storefront windows from the 1960s until the department store closed in the 1990s. That's when the elves were scattered across town and time took its toll on Santa's helpers.

When the Beautification Committee reunited the elves this year, they knew now was the time to bring back "Santa's Magical Workshop."

"Our downtown is growing with more businesses so I think that's building the excitement," said Carol Brown, a Beautification Committee member.

The Committee turned the elves over to Lou Nasti and his team from Lou Nasti's Mechanical Displays. Nasti's job was to bring life back to the old elves.

"It wasn't impossible, but it was a challenge," Nasti said. "They were old and dried out. I have experience doing this work, so I knew what to do."

The elves were taken apart, refreshed and rebuilt with new motors. The workshop was re-imagined. There are more toys to look at and more playful furry creatures to watch.

"I did a lot of details because I didn't want people to just walk by," Nasti said. "I want them to stay there and look and watch the figures move."

The figures do a lot of moving as they saw and hammer toys together. Some of the elves even take time to feed the furry animals as they scurry across the workshop floor. It's a holiday scene that is sure to bring back a lot of memories.

"I bring happiness and I see it," Nasti said. "I was blessed with this opportunity to do this work all of my life."

Plus it's a sight that will create new memories for people who visit Thomasville this holiday season.

"I think this is going to be a huge plus for Thomasville," Barnes said. "We are going to see an explosion of visitors in town."

On Saturday, Nov. 23, you can see the mechanical elves working in the display windows of the Thomasville Antique Emporium on East Main Street and on Commerce Street.

They will be a part of the "Light up the Holidays" event that will start at 2 p.m. and include miniature train rides, the lighting of the Christmas tree and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

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