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Sleeping baby meets Santa Claus — and the results are adorable

When baby Ezekiel "Zeke" fell asleep while waiting in line to see Santa in an Indiana mall, the man with the famous twinkle in his eye had a plan.
/ Source: TODAY

Waiting for Santa can be exhausting.

When baby Zeke fell asleep while waiting in line to see Santa in an Indiana mall, the man with the famous twinkle in his eye had a plan.

He propped the 6-month-old baby on his chest and pretended to join the tot in a nap.

“I can't believe how adorable our son's pictures with Santa came out. After falling asleep in line waiting, Santa asked us not to wake him and the outcome was the cutest thing I've ever seen,” the boy's father, Donnie Walters, said in his caption of the resulting photos, which he posted online.

The sweet photos quickly went viral. On the man's Donnie Daycare’s Facebook page, they have been shared more than 198,000 times and received more than 32 million views. The photos also have been popular on Imgur and other social media platforms.

Walters, 40, told that Zeke crashed on his shoulder as soon as they got into line, where there was only one other family ahead of them. He and his wife originally thought about heading back home, but then figured they would instead simply walk around the mall until the baby woke up.

“The lady behind us heard us, and she said, ‘No, you want to stay in line. This Santa takes the best sleeping baby photos,’” he said.

It turned out to be true: Santa told the couple to let the child be.

"He came walking over and he said, 'Please don’t wake him. Let's keep him asleep. I’ve got a perfect idea that I do to take these sleeping baby photos,'" Walters recalled.

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Although baby Zeke woke up as he was being transferred, "as soon as he got on Santa's side, he was out," Walters said.

"He’s not the heaviest sleeper and he’s only awake all the time, which was funny to us. When he’s out and about, he loves to people watch, and for him to have fallen asleep at that time, we found it a little ironic," he said.

The couple returned several days later to the mall to share with Santa the news about their viral photos. Zeke was sleeping, of course.

But Santa gladly posed again with the boy.

"He is fantastic," Walters said. "It's obvious he totally loves what he does."

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.