It may have taken awhile, but the biggest mall in America will see its first black Santa this holiday season.
For the first time in its 24-year history, a black St. Nick will greet present-seeking children and pose for pictures with them.
The concept is not entirely new, it just hasn’t made its way into a mall until now.
Larry Jefferson – who will grace the mall’s holiday photo booth this weekend – is an experienced professional Santa who attended Santa school in 2014 when he retired from a career in the military.
“I enjoy making people smile and be happy. During the holidays, people go through a lot,” he told The Huffington Post.
From the sounds of it, we will see Santas from a variety of backgrounds at the mall’s ‘The Santa Experience.’
A spokesman for the Mall of America said, “We’re looking to have a Santa for everyone.”
“The Santa Experience is saying they’re open to the possibility of seeing a Latino or and Asian Santa, mainly they said they just want to spread joy, peace, and happiness — and if a multicultural Santa helps they say they are all for it,” the spokesman said.
After all, it’s 2016. Sadly, however, we need all the progress we can make when it comes to race relations, at a time when racism is still a very real issue.
“It’s no big deal. I’m still Santa. I just happen to be a Santa of colour,” Jefferson said.
“It gives some kids an opportunity to see a Santa that looks like them and it gives them something to identify with. But Santa is still just Santa. Kids are just kids. They are very innocent and they just love Santa.”
While some have been vocal to leave Santa as unchanging as the leaves of a Christmas tree, who can really decide what Santa is supposed to look like if he is a made-up concept altogether?
“There need to be more Santas of colour, because this is America, and kids need to see a Santa that looks like them,” Jefferson told the Washington Post. “That helps kids to identify with the love and spirit of the holiday, you know?”
Jefferson is booked solid with appointments all weekend long.