Fred Parker, the man known as “Seventh Ward Santa” or “Chocolate Santa,” whose warmth and holiday spirit lives on in the thousands of photographs he posed for with generations of Black New Orleanians at Christmas, has passed away.
A family member confirmed Parker’s death. For nearly 50 years, Parker dressed as Santa Claus and posed for pictures with children who visited Dennis Photofinish Studio at St. Bernard Avenue and North Tonti Street.
His smiling face and gray and white beard became instantly recognizable to children and parents, many of whom now remember taking their own photos with him in their youth at a time when Black Santa’s was rare.
Throughout his marvelous life, Parker also made countless visits to schools and daycare centers and traveled to other cities as Santa as well.
“I love bringing joy to people, that’s my job – bring joy to the world, as much as I can,” he stated in an interview with former WWL-TV Anchor Sally Ann Roberts.
Fred Parker will be missed by all who he put a smile on the faces of many Black Kids during the holiday season.