Sweet Photos of Santa and Sleeping Baby Go Viral

·Senior Editor
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A sleeping infant, unbeknownst to him, became an overnight Facebook sensation when his adorable photos with Santa (see above and below) drew attention from around the globe.

It all started when 6-month-old Zeke went with his parents, Donnie and Kelli Walters, to meet Santa at a mall in Evansville, Ind. But when the family reached the point of being second in line, Zeke — apparently less excited about the event than his parents were — let out a huge yawn and fell sound asleep in his stroller.

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“We discussed leaving and then returning later,” Donnie tells Yahoo Parenting, but then a mom behind them advised sticking around because the Eastland Mall’s Santa was a veteran who had a particularly unique approach to dealing with sleeping babies.

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Santa and Zeke have been melting hearts around the world. (Photo: Donnie Walters/Facebook)

When their turn came, Donnie says, “Santa came over and said, ‘Please stay and keep him asleep.’” He instructed them to lift Zeke carefully out of his stroller — he woke up only for a second — and place him in the crook of the arm of Kris Kringle, who lay slumped in his green armchair with the book The Night Before Christmas, as if he and the baby had dozed off while reading together. The results are both funny and precious.

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“The pictures were so cute that when I looked over at my mother-in-law, she was crying,” Donnie says about the photo shoot.

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Zeke was out cold during his return visit to Santa too. (Photo: Donnie Walters/Facebook)

And the images have resonated in an amazing way on Facebook, where Donnie — a disabled Army vet with an injured shoulder who is a stay-at-home dad to Zeke — first posted them to his page, “Donnie’s Daddy Daycare.” From there, he said, they “took off like wildfire.” The photos have since been liked more than 375,000 times and shared more than 198,000 times, and have inspired more than 22,000 joyful comments.

“It’s been crazy,” says Donnie, whose story has been covered in media outlets from Boston to London and who has been invited with Zeke and Kelli, a social worker, for a live TV broadcast in New York.

The family, who returned to the mall over the weekend to visit Santa and let him know the photos had gone viral, learned that it wasn’t exactly his first brush with fame: Last year, photos of him eating breakfast at a local Bob Evans with a 3-year-old fan, who couldn’t bear to see Santa eating alone, also got lots of attention. But Zeke was still unimpressed. As soon as they returned for the visit, Donnie says, the little boy fell asleep again — providing another great photo op, natch.

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