Remembering Chocolate Santa, a New Orleans legend


You better not pout; you better not cry

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The holidays are the days for memories.

One of them is of a New Orleans legend.

He’s the man everybody knows as Chocolate Santa Claus.

Last summer, he said goodbye.

He died.

New Orleanians had their photos taken with the man. 

Here’s a look at the story from a few years ago.

“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa says.

And you know what else the jolly old elf has to say, according to WGNO Good Morning New Orleans features reporter Bill Wood, he says Santa Claus is ready for his close up.

So, you better not pout.

You better not cry.

Okay, you can cry because Santa can take tears.  He can even take tears times two when twin boys are sitting in his lap crying and screaming.

Wild Bill says, “double trouble when you’ve got twins in tears in your lap!”

Santa says, “I just make sure they don’t jump out of my arms and hurt themselves and roll with the picture.”

Nowhere near the North Pole.

But somewhere at a New Orleans School, in fact, three schools a day during the high season of close-ups with the Santa you can call by name.

Well just ask him what to call him and he’ll say, “Seventh Ward Santa, Black Santa, Chocolate Santa.”

And he adds to that, “I don’t know what they call me behind closed doors!”

For 50 years, he’s been in the business of connecting kids to Christmas the way only a Chocolate Santa could.

Chocolate Santa says, “previously the tradition was White Santa and that’s what their mind said it was.”

But he says, “Santa is in the heart, you realize Santa comes from the heart, that’s where it all starts, that’s what it’s about.”

Once upon a time in the Seventh Ward, he was a taxi driver, then a school bus driver. He was so good with his young passengers, another bus driver suggested another career, like Santa Claus.

He responded to that bus driver with the idea, “and I told her I couldn’t find a suit to fit me and she made me one.”

He never planned it.

But now, his ho, ho, ho is as real as his beard.

After 76 years and maybe a million snapshots, this Santa is now posing with the great, great, great grandkids of the original kids to sit on his lap.

That’s five generations who may not remember the moment, but they’ve got the proof.

It’s in the picture.

The picture with Santa.

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