For the first time in decades, Chocolate Santa not taking photos for 2019 Christmas

Studio to have a black Santa, but it won’t be Mr. Fred.

We hate to be Scrooge this Christmas, but we’re just the messenger here — the legendary Chocolate Santa is taking a break from pictures this year, according to the photo studio he closely works with.

Fred Parker, known to many across New Orleans as Chocolate Santa or the 7th Ward Santa, has been posing for photos for generations. Even before he was Santa, Parker was bringing kids Christmas cheer. In a 2009 article, he told when he was a bus driver he would treat his entire bus of kids to McDonald’s on the last day of school before Christmas break.

Photo Courtesy Rai Gabriel

In a Nov. 23 post from Dennis Photofinish, the studio that works closely with Parker, it was announced that Parker wouldn’t be posing for Christmas portraits. The studio did, however, state there will still be photos with an African American Santa and the schedule for portraits would be up by Dec. 5.

An earlier photo shoot, sponsored by Dose of the Coast, was canceled in October due to Parker’s health.