Dear Chocolate Santa,
Just four short months before Christmas and we are grieving your loss and the tradition you created. Some may have called you Chocolate Santa, others 7th Ward Santa, and those who worked with you affectionately called you Mr. Parker. You had the kindest smile and consistently sly and sweet personality.
As a child you would make an appearance at schools all across New Orleans and kids lined up to sit on your lap, tell you their Christmas list and smile their biggest smiles with the Santa that reminded them of their Paw Paw. As adults we drove across town and stood in lines to ensure that our kids participated in this New Orleans tradition. Now, more than ever, we are all happy that we went out of our way each year to make this happen.
Now that you’re gone, it’s not just about taking a picture with a different brown-skinned Santa, because we refused to call them Chocolate Santa. It’s about the end of an era. The end of the tradition that meant so much to the Black community since the 1980’s. Nearly every child that attended school in New Orleans can tell a story and present their picture with the beloved Chocolate Santa. The Santa that they traveled back to after relocating from New Orleans to ensure that their child also took a picture with the same Santa, the REAL Santa, OUR Santa. The same pre-Katrina, secret location, Santa that we all knew and loved.
We were honored to have had you and will cherish the memories and photos that we have from you. We are grateful to have had you here to be such a critical and representative part of the Black community; so that every Black boy and girl had a chance to sit and smile with a Santa that looked just like them. Your impact was needed and will not be forgotten.
Rest Well, 7th Ward Santa.