Galt House Hotel Teams with World-Renowned Animator to Give Figures New Life

World-renowned animator Lou Nasti evaluates figures for Galt House Hotel.

They sat discarded in a storage room for decades, but a group of former Christmas figures will soon have a new life. Galt House Hotel acquired these figures from the City of Louisville, and is working with world-renowned animator Lou Nasti to restore them. He began with two Dicken’s characters that were in serious disrepair and got them back in working order for display in the 2011 Christmas at the Galt House attraction.

A couple dozen figures were found in a City storage room and given to the Galt House Hotel in hopes that they can be restored.

But there are a couple dozen other figures that still need a lot of help. Many of the figures came from Lazarus and Stewart’s Department Stores. Stewart’s was a downtown Louisville landmark for years. People would come downtown at Christmastime to see the Stewart’s window displays. That’s something Galt House Hotel President Mary Moseley has fond memories of. She remembers her father taking her and her siblings downtown every year to look at the windows.
“It was such a special part of my childhood and I wanted to share it with others,” Moseley said.
That’s why Galt House Hotel has enlisted the help of Mr. Nasti for a second and much larger project. Mr. Nasti will work to restore many of the characters and they’ll be used in the 2012 Christmas at the Galt House event. He realizes it’s a tough job to bring back that amazement and wonder many felt as a child at Christmastime.
“To make something new is easy, you can’t be wrong,” said Mr. Nasti, “but when you’re trying to recreate something that existed it’s harder because you want it to look like what [people] remember.”
Mr. Nasti visited Louisville at the end of February 2012 to see the figures. He says he couldn’t believe the shape some of the characters were in.
“No one really realized the value of the figures. It’s a work of art,” said Mr. Nasti. “I felt bad to see the condition they’re in. Many times I’ve fixed figures that were nowhere in the shape these were in. They were just really handled poorly, but I can bring them back to life.”
Mr. Nasti says they must be looked at mechanically and all of them will need updated wiring and motors. He’ll use newer and safer technologies in their renovations. Mr. Nasti actually owns the molds for many of the Dicken’s characters. Many of them are missing fingers and hands because they were made of rubber, which has dried out and cracked away. They’ll get new hands, new makeup, their clothes will be fixed, and they’ll be worked into a story.

Penny was part of the reindeer duo of Bruce and Penny. They were created by Lou Nasti some 35 years ago.

Two of the characters hold special meaning for Mr. Nasti. He created Bruce and Penny some 35 years ago. He says everybody loved the pair of talking reindeer. They were hand-operated and the first in a line of about 25 talking characters. “Bruce and Penny, I didn’t recognize them at first,” Mr. Nasti says. “The ears were broken, the antlers were gone, I felt bad but they’re still intact. They can be picked up and [brought] back to life.”
Mr. Nasti says he’s excited to start the project. And he has so many ideas. He says he’s honored that Galt House Hotel has picked him to bring these figures back to life.
“I feel I can be very instrumental. My forte is Christmas winter wonderland,” said Mr. Nasti. “I can take an empty room and you’ll never know you’re in that room when I’m through with it. I can do it beautifully here.”
Mr. Nasti will work on the figures and the restored ones will be used in Christmas at the Galt House Hotel featuring KaLightoscope. This year’s event runs November 17, 2012 through January 2, 2013. It features 11 themed areas including the Christmas Village and Snow Fairy Castle. For more information, click here.

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