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Santa Barbara - South County

Elves at Santa’s Christmas Cheer Workshop spread holiday joy on a small scale

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - There is a magical place, somewhat hidden away, in downtown Santa Barbara. It is one of Santa's workshops, tucked inside the Unity Shoppe toy store.

Audrey and Elvira (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

Those lucky to peak inside Santa's Christmas Cheer Workshop will find the work of elves is a best-kept secret. Elvira Avina, Unity Shoppe's Administrative Director, gave 7-year-old Audrey Keefer a personal tour while Audrey's dad tagged along.

"My favorite room is this one and Santa's room and the kitchen," exclaimed Audrey.

The handcrafted dollhouse was a labor of love by Unity's founder, the late Barbara Tellefson and her husband, Claire. The two-story creation is filled with thousands of pieces, down to elf-sized work tools and wrapping paper. 

The Tellefsons created the dollhouse in the mid 1980's to explain why the Shoppe was providing toys to local children, on behalf of Santa.

Avina shared one of Barbara's secrets with NewsChannel 3.

"She was the great granddaughter of Santa Claus," said Avina. "Barbara and her husband Claire were into miniatures at the time."

The home contains workshops for toy building and wrapping and, bunkbeds for weary elves to rest their heads. Hand-laid tiles line the kitchen floor and in Santa's room, you'll find a real replica sea painting of one displayed in the Tellefson's home.

"There was a lot of detail," said Avina. "Some of the items in the dollhouse were custom-made and done to scale."

The Tellefsons also tossed in a little reality. After all, even elves have chores and apparently, they're not immune to chickenpox.

"Of my favorite parts of the whole house, for myself, is the train," said Avina. "To me, it represents the North Pole and in the north pole, the elves use the train as a way of transportation around the whole workshop and I love that." 

The late Tellefsons legacy will spread even more Christmas cheer for years to come, with help from the elves.

"I like it," said Audrey. "I think all kids will like it!"

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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