COMING TO TOWN: Santa and Mrs. Claus Prepare for the Magic of the Season

For Everrett Prostrollo, retirement looks a little different than most. After spending 20 years in the Air Force and seven years as a camp ranger for the Boy Scouts, he now spends most of his time preparing for the holidays—a requirement when you are Santa Claus.    

Prostrollo didn’t always know he would become Santa, though it seems to suit him well. His long white beard, his jolly laugh and genuine joy are not only convincing but striking. 

It all started in 2017 when the church he and his wife attend asked if he could be Santa Claus for their upcoming Christmas party. When Prostrollo, who had no Santa suit at the time, agreed, he was given a bag that contained a big wig and a makeshift outfit. “I wore my own hat, put on the suit and went out there and had a good time and saw the joy in the children, saw the joy in the parents and other family members, and it just kind of hit something in your heart and that's where a lot of it starts.” 

click to enlarge COMING TO TOWN: Santa and Mrs. Claus Prepare for the Magic of the Season (4)
Liesl Webber

That was just the beginning. 

Two years later, in 2019, the question came up again, this time for both Santa and Mrs. Claus to attend a photography session at a karate studio. They agreed, but it came with their own request as well. “Hey, can we borrow these suits for tonight?” Prostrollo asked. “Because we were asked to do a company Christmas party for some friends.” 

They wore the outfits to the party, where they remember a reluctant little girl who was initially afraid to approach them. “At the end, all the kids were out playing, and we were walking around and doing our holiday greetings and getting ready to leave and the little girl came up and basically leapt into her arms, my wife's arms, and she was able to get a couple of pictures with her,” Prostrollo said. 

Dana Prostrollo said the parents were shocked. “It made you feel pretty good that not only the little girl, but the mom and dad had that memory, that bond.” 

It became clear that Santa was better with Mrs. Claus. “I started seeing the value for me as a Santa, for a Mrs. Claus,” Everrett said. “She started giving that grandmotherly type feel and welcoming presence for the children that oftentimes are very hesitant to come to a guy that's in a big suit with a white beard and glasses and a hat, but they'll come right to Mrs. Claus and snuggle.” 

Dana worked as a 911 police dispatcher for 23 years. When her husband retired, she went back to school to become a radiologic technologist—a role she continues in addition to being Mrs. Claus.   

With this newfound second act, the Prostrollos made big plans including updated outfits for the following year. “And then, of course, 2020 was Covid. Covid hit and the world was in turmoil, and it was just kind of an overall kick in the gut,” Everrett said. In August, however, they decided they would still do what was possible to bring joy to the end of the year. 

click to enlarge COMING TO TOWN: Santa and Mrs. Claus Prepare for the Magic of the Season (5)
Liesl Webber

Through mainly word of mouth, Santa and Mrs. Claus started making their first appearances at mainly outside events. Within the first three events, Everrett said he realized being Santa would be a long-term commitment. “When you see the children react, the ones that run to you with their arms wide open and give you a hug, your heart melts.”  

Dana agrees, “It just transforms you. We go home and we're tired and our cheeks hurt from smiling so much, but it's such a good feeling. I love it.” 

When the 2020 holiday season came to close, the Prostrollos continued to dive deeper into learning the business of being Santa and Mrs. Claus. One night while watching Amazon Prime, Dana came across a film called “Santa School,” a documentary that follows several Santa Clauses as they become the best possible Kris Kringle.   

“Just absolutely blown away,” Dana said about her realization that there were professional schools for Santa entertainers. “And that particular school that they did is in Atlanta, that's just a couple hours from here.”

Northern Lights Santa Academy is the largest Santa Claus School in the Southeast, according to their website. After learning about the program, the Prostrollos quickly enrolled in classes and now attend two times a year. “We just could not absorb enough information,” Dana said, listing friendship, camaraderie, and mentorship as additional benefits of the school. 

They are members of the Worldwide Santa Claus Network and have taken a class with Timothy Connaghan, the official Santa for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, who is often referred to as “National Santa.” Additionally, they have spent hundreds of hours in online and in-person training all in preparation for providing memorable experiences.  

This year, they’ve done four major training programs: A Santa Family Reunion in Gatlinburg, TN, the School of Santa’s (SOS) in Branson, MO and two sessions in Atlanta at Northern Lights Santa Academy where they received a PhD—Professional Holiday Doctorate—under the watchful eye of Santa Rick Rosenthal, the program’s dean and director. 

“For us, we're on a path to becoming extraordinary Santa and Mrs. Claus,” Everrett said. Dana added, “We want to give the best experience to each person that comes up, we want to give them the experience, like wow, he's real!” 

Becoming the best in the Santa business has been an investment for the Prostrollos, who admit it’s a fun, but expensive endeavor. Yearly background checks, entertainers’ insurance, multiple custom-made suits, and their recent addition—a hundred-year-old sleigh—all must be accounted for. 

“I spend more on haircare and haircare products than my wife and my two grown daughters do combined,” Everrett said laughingly, whose bleached beard, hair and eyebrows are touched up about every eight weeks. 

“You wouldn't think that a bunch of men would sit around at school and discuss haircare—how they keep their beards white.” 

click to enlarge COMING TO TOWN: Santa and Mrs. Claus Prepare for the Magic of the Season (2)
Liesl Webber

“It’s pretty funny to watch,” said Dana. 

For this year’s holiday season, they have booked close to 70 events, up from about 42 events last year. Requests to attend pet drives, photoshoots, military events, and corporate parties all make the list among many others. 

“One of the fascinating things that we discovered early on is that if you are a good Santa and Mrs. Claus that people want you back, you become their Santa and Mrs. Claus, and that is something that also endears you to do what you're doing—putting the time in.” 

It's also time donated throughout the holiday season. “We also balance our intake with a lot of charity work,” Everrett said. Recently, they attended a photoshoot with a group of foster children, free of charge. “We brought out the sleigh, we brought out all our props that go with the sleigh and the event was just a success.” An upcoming event at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners in Hinesville will also be donated time among many others.  

For the Prostrollos, a couple of 35 years, becoming Santa and Mrs. Claus serves a greater purpose, one they hope will have a lasting impact on future generations.  

“It is about giving back to the community that you're in…the older you get, it’s more about the children, the new generation that's coming up, it's the young families,” Everrett said. 

To Dana, it’s the power of love and acceptance. “Anybody can come up to Santa and Mrs. Claus and you're loved, you're accepted for who you are. I don't care what you look like, I don't care what you're wearing,” she said. “Santa is love and if we can bring that to them for just five minutes, that's all worth it.” 

For more information, visit their Facebook page Santa Red Adventures Everrett or their website: mrmrsclaus.com. Bookings for 2024 will open on Feb. 1.



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