Take a stroll through the Castle Noel museum in Medina with its founder, Mark Klaus, and chances are you will pick up on some phrases that he repeats with the frequency of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" being played on radio stations this time of year.

Klaus, who bears a striking resemblance to the other guy with a white beard from up North, will drop a "this is just spectacular" every few feet mixed in with an "awesome" or two and "this is really cool" and a "this one is one of my favorites" to boot.

He'll also shout out every so often to his worker elves scurrying behind the scenes to add more Christmas lights or more garland to his elaborate displays of Christmas movie memorabilia and window displays from New York City.

Like his ever-growing personal collection of Christmas treasures, Klaus is always updating and moving things about the former church and storefronts his sprawling museum occupies on the southern end of Medina's historic town square.

The museum changes every Christmas season and sometimes by the minute. He's always working on something, and this year is no different.

It's been just a year since he completely reworked the museum's grand finale space that is home to a living and breathing Santa Claus atop a snowy mountain, complete with a giant slide, and life-size movie props from the Tim Allen "Santa Clause" movies and Jim Carrey's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

He is already sprucing up the space that was once a church sanctuary to include a faux castle along one wall.

The castle won't be done in time for this Christmas, but other projects — big and small — are up and running.

 

Spruced up

An area dedicated to Will Ferrell's beloved "Elf" has had some offseason TLC and is now also home to the original Baby Susie elf costume from the 2003 film.

The lighting has been replaced and the mechanisms restored to the 1997 "Nutcracker" window displays from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Klaus said the challenge to the window displays is that the inner workings are only designed to last the few weeks that they are on display in the celebrated windows in the Big Apple and not for a year-round museum.

So when he's lucky enough to acquire them and bring them back to Medina, they have to be completely reworked to ensure they will stand the test of time.

He does a lot of work himself, and visitors get a chance on the tour to take a peek behind the curtains and visit the workshop where future displays are being restored.

Sometimes, Klaus said, he's lucky enough to work side by side with the original creators. This was the case with the collection of original props and stop-motion animation puppets from the NBC TV special "Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas" that originally aired in 2014.

The folks behind the magic of the TV special traveled to Medina to help set up the New York skyline backdrop now on display and will be back again next year to assist in reassembling the Central Park set still in storage.

"This is just an awesome display," he said.

Since its opening in 2014, Klaus has transformed the former Methodist church into the world's largest museum dedicated to Christmas movie memorabilia and props and window displays from New York's famed department stores.

Tour buses regularly line the street outside of the museum and Klaus, whose fame and fortune is traced to creating hand-sculpted ornaments that were once sold on home shopping channels, is often there to greet each and every visitor as they make their way inside the museum's gift shop and ticket booth that is also a sight to behold.

 

Yeti sighting

Although it's all Christmas all the time at Castle Noel, Klaus said this is the year of the yeti.

He is in the midst of a new project to transform an upstairs auditorium into an interactive theater to bring, in his words, a taste of Disney World to Ohio.

All the technical bells and whistles of the space are still being worked out, but Klaus said guests this season will still be able to sit back and enjoy a taste of what's to come when they come face to face with a large animatronic yeti.

"He's a one and only," Klaus said with a hearty laugh. "We are working now to take the next step to create Disney-type shows."

It doesn't get much more immersive than a new area featuring Bloomingdale window displays that have been in storage since 2013.

Klaus has surrounded the holiday window displays in a mirror-covered space that gives the illusion from floor to ceiling that it stretches forever. He also made giant snowflakes covered in thousands of beads that spin from the ceiling to add more dazzle to the space.

"It's never enough," he concedes.

Everywhere Klaus looks in the three-story museum there's something new he's added over the past year or a change he wants to make sooner rather than later.

"This place is a seven-day-a-week, year-round project," he said. "And I never get everything done I hope to."

 

Craig Webb, who would like to move into the Whooville display at the museum, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3547.