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VIKINGS FOOTBALL: Peterson plays Santa Claus at housing shelter

MINNEAPOLIS -- There's no doubt what Adrian Peterson wants for Christmas. "A Super Bowl, definitely,'' the Vikings running back said Tuesday. With the big game not until Febuary, Peterson will have to wait awhile to see if he gets his wish. As fo...

2219113+APsanta1.jpg
Mrs. "Ashley Peterson" Claus helps make last second adjustments to Santa "Adrian Peterson" Claus at 'The Heart of Giving-Secret Santa Gift Give-a-way' at Mary's place in Minneapolis on Tuesday, December 12, 2015. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

 

MINNEAPOLIS -- There’s no doubt what Adrian Peterson wants for Christmas.

“A Super Bowl, definitely,’’ the Vikings running back said Tuesday.

With the big game not until Febuary, Peterson will have to wait awhile to see if he gets his wish. As for 420 kids, they received gifts three days before Christmas.

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Peterson dressed as Santa Claus at Mary’s Place, a transitional housing shelter in Minneapolis, and handed out gifts. He said, “Ho, ho, ho,’’ several times and presumably wore a big smile, although his face was mostly covered by a big, white beard.

“I have a big heart,’’ Peterson said. “I love to see smiles on kids’ faces, especially when you have kids that are less fortunate and when Christmastime comes around, they’re like they don’t know to expect.’’

Peterson’s wife, Ashley, figured it was the third time the running back has dressed as Santa. The last time was in 2013 at a Vikings Christmas party.

Ashley Peterson dressed as Mrs. Claus. She said that made her “feel very jolly.’’

The kids looked happy. Through Peterson’s All Day Foundation and with the help of some sponsors, each received a gift bag.

A girl’s bag for those under 5 contained a Sparkle Princess doll and a My Friend Molly magnet set, among other things. A boy’s bag between 6 and 10 included a Mars Motorized Attack Robo Squad toy and two suction cup guns, among other gifts.

“He’s a good player, and I like Santa,’’ said Juma Ellis, 9, who was thrilled to have her picture taken with Peterson.

Ashley Peterson bought her husband’s Santa suit online for $60. She said the event had been in the works for about two weeks after Mary’s Place had been recommended by the Petersons’ pastor, Calvin Simmons, and his wife, Shareese.

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“This definitely is something we want to do yearly with the foundation,’’ said Ashley Peterson. “(The Petersons) want to make sure that as many kids as we can help to have the best Christmas ever.’’

Calvin Simmons, pastor at Holy Fire Tabernacle, considered it important to help Mary’s Place because “they don’t really receive like government funding.’’ He said many children at the shelter recently emigrated along with family members from Somalia.

Peterson last year received negative publicity when he missed the final 15 games for a child-abuse incident. He was asked about the positive image projected by Tuesday’s event.

“It’s good,’’ he said. “It’s funny, because this is something I always do. I always do things to give back to the community and those less fortunate, so you take away last year, this will be something that I would still be putting on.’’

The children got to mingle with another Vikings player when tackle T.J. Clemmings showed up. The rookie hadn’t realized Peterson was going to dress as Santa, and he laughed when he saw him.

“He looks pretty strong in a Santa suit,’’ Clemmings said. “I just wanted to show my support and see him put a smile on kids’ faces.’’

2219114+APsanta2.jpg
Santa "Adrian Peterson" Claus signs Shania Isiaih's, 9, Adrian Peterson jersey at 'The Heart of Giving-Secret Santa Gift Give-a-way' at Mary's place in Minneapolis on Tuesday, December 12, 2015. Looking on is Santa's helper Adrian Jr., 4. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

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