America’s biggest mall will host its first black Santa Claus in a push for diversity.
A black man will play Santa for the first time in the Mall of America’s 24 year history, reports the Star Tribune.
As part of the Santa Experience, Larry Jefferson will greet children and take pictures with them as Santa Claus from Thursday-Sunday.
“This is a long time coming. We want Santa to be for everyone, period,” said Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience.
The Santa Experience allows families to book photo appointments with Santa. Families are required to purchase a photo package.
“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” Jefferson said. “[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”
Luther found Jefferson, a retired Texas army veteran, at the Santa Convention in Branson, Miss this past summer. The children love seeing a black Santa, Jefferson said.
“It gives them something to identity with, but Santa is still just Santa,” Jefferson said. “Just Saturday, I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am, but Santa comes in many different colors.’ He said, ‘Oh,’ so I gave him a candy cane, he ran off with other kids.”
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