GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - It takes a team to get Gastonia’s ‘Storybook Santa’ ready.
“He’s a little bit spoiled,” his caregiver Sierra Ballard says, curling his snow white hair.
It is all worth it, though, she says, for a little holiday magic.
“100 percent,” Ballard said.
While the “getting ready” process is new to Ballard, it is not new to her client Bob Propst. He has been spreading holiday cheer for quite some time.
“Over 1,700 years, I think,” ‘Santa’ says.
But last year, he took a little break from the public eye. The Storybook Santa, so often seen at the Dillard’s in Gastonia, had to take some time away. After he lost his Mrs. Claus in 2017, it just was not the same.
“The ride up there and back was the worst part,” he says. “It felt so empty without her.”
Soon, he had some health problems that brought a few new ladies like Ballard into his life, to help him through..
“I was sad,” he says. “And they got me laughing again.”
A little dusting of the decorations, a curl or two to Santa’s beard, and now, this Santa is seeing the kids again - this time, right in his own house. Not the North Pole, but his “summer home,” in Gastonia.
“These young ladies that take care of me, they made that decision for me,” he says. “They said, ‘We’re tired of you being down and out, we want you to cheer up, and we think this is the way to do it.’”
Now, the kids are coming to him.
“The Lord did that,” he says. “To send all these people to see me, I’m very thankful.”
It is part of bringing the joy back into this holly-filled home. He hopes, now, that he can keep doing it, for years to come.
“I hope I can, I really do, yes,” he says. “Nothing like it, children are the greatest thing in the world.