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Brown joins family Santa parade tradition

BEN HILLYER/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Sessions Brown is ready to don the traditional red and white suit for this year’s annual Santa Claus Parade. Brown will be the fourth person from his family to take on the role.
BEN HILLYER/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Sessions Brown is ready to don the traditional red and white suit for this year’s annual Santa Claus Parade. Brown will be the fourth person from his family to take on the role.

Donning the Natchez Santa hat and suit is a tradition that runs deep in Sessions Brown’s family.

The Santa Claus Committee chose Brown, 41, as this Christmas’ local Santa to lead the annual Santa Claus Parade and hand out toys to needy children on Christmas Eve.

He’s the fourth in his family to do the honors.

“It’s always been a dream of mine, especially considering I’m a third-generation Santa,” Brown said. “Coming from that long line of Santas is particularly special to me.”

Sessions’ father and Natchez mayor, Butch Brown, first received the honor in 1980 followed by Sessions’ grandfather, Dr. William Godfrey, in 1990, and finally his brother, Larry Jr., in 2005.

“I’ve been around the Santa Claus committee as long as I can remember,” Sessions Brown said. “But the older I got, the more I realized just what an important organization it really is for the community.”

The Santa Claus Committee got its start in Natchez in 1928, when a group of businessmen decided they wanted to ensure that even the less-fortunate local children have a merry Christmas.

The committee exists only for charitable purposes, and members pay yearly dues to participate in the committee’s annual parade, which is on Christmas Eve.

Part of the parade includes stopping at Braden School Auditorium and passing out presents to children ages 1-10.

Though he made a brief appearance as Santa at the Christmas tree lighting in downtown Natchez after Thanksgiving, Brown said the stop at Braden would be the highlight of the experience.

“The sheer joy I’ve seen in the eyes of those who have been Santa Claus before me when they’re handing out the gifts at Braden Auditorium is incredible,” Brown said. “For nearly 100 years, the committee has been looking out for those children who are less fortunate, and it’s just something I’m really looking forward to continuing.”

But Brown’s enthusiasm to spread the Christmas spirit means he can’t quite withstand the requests of Natchez children for presents.

“I really enjoyed talking to the children at the Christmas tree lighting because, right or wrong, I told them they could have everything they wanted,” Brown said. “That was part of the deal with me being Santa, even though some parents were looking at me going, ‘Thanks a lot.’”

Apart from the honor of continuing a long line of Santa lineage, Brown said he’s also looking forward to playing the role to teach his two sons, Hite and Hutch, the importance of Christmas.

“With two little guys, it’s been fun from the educational standpoint to allow them to learn the true meaning of Christmas,” Brown said. “We all love Christmas.”

Brown is an investment banker with Crews & Associates, which is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark. He is also a member of the Natchez Rotary Club, Leadership Natchez and the Krewe of Phoenix.