Pa Otter is the late husband of Alice Otter and father of Emmet in Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. Although he died a couple of years before the start of the story, his presence is felt throughout the special. Pa was a snake oil salesman, though business wasn't always good. As Pa often joked, "There aren't enough people who want to oil a snake!"
Pa also said, "A person's got to take his chances or life will never come to nothing." He took his chances on the snake oil, but the fact that it never came to much hardly matters. A sentimental fellow, his favorite song was "When the River Meets the Sea."
Pa was also an early environmentalist, establishing the family tradition of the Christmas branch. Every year, he'd go out and vow to bring back a whole Christmas tree. He never had the heart, reflecting that the tree, if allowed to live, would remain for another hundred years. Alice thinks that sometimes Emmet even sounds like his Pa.
Another tradition associated with the family patriarch is Pa's slide. The slide is built on the hillside overlooking part of the river. When the ice solidifies on the river, the Otters would slide down, a joyous winter recreation. Emmet feels it's the best thing Pa ever built.
Pa's death forced hardships on the Otter family, as they had to part with most of their possessions. Had Pa lived, he would have hocked the toolchest and put a hole in the washtub. When Alice and Emmet lose the Waterville talent contest to the Riverbottom Nightmare Band, they take heart in the fact that they did what Pa would have done and took a chance.
The spirit of Pa Otter appears in the stage adaptation of Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas where he sings the song "Alice Keep Dreaming" to his wife. In the original 2008 stage production, the role was played by Alan Campbell, with David Stephens as the understudy. Stephens took over the role for the 2009 version.