Famous New Orleans Santa makes his rounds

Seventy-three-year-old Fred Parker is the famous Seventh Ward Santa.

Seventy-three-year-old Fred Parker is the famous Seventh Ward Santa.

For generations, Parker has been playing his roll as Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, and he wouldn’t trade a second of those 45 years of Christmas spirit for anything.

Betty Clifton, a teacher at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School, said that Parker’s Santa is such a celebrity that, when he visited the school on Wednesday, the kids could hardly contain their excitement, reports WDSU.

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“Before he even came in we had to gather them [kids] around and say, ‘Santa’s coming. We have to let him get in first; don’t attack him,’” Clifton told WDSU.

Clifton gets into the spirit of Christmas every year as well, and her family has often been to visit the Seventh Ward Santa.

“Every one of my brothers and sisters have taken pictures with Chocolate Santa and my son, who is now 23, took a picture with him when he was in elementary school,” said Clifton.

As for Parker, he absolutely loves his job. “Every time I see the joy on a child’s face it’s worth it,” he said.

He even recalled one time when he turned a 3-year-old girl into a believer.

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“She came and told me I was fake. So I put her on my knee and told her to pull my beard; she pulled on the beard and her eyes bucked. I put her hand on my stomach and she felt it and she jumped down. I’m trying to hold her, she urinated all over my knee,” said Parker.

Despite his age, Parker isn’t quitting the Santa gig anytime soon, either.

“As long as I’m healthy I’ll be here for the children,” said Parker.

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