Macy’s has a special secret at its Herald Square location in New York City: a black Santa Claus who appears only by request.

Families who wish to see the secret Santa must ask for him when they reach the front of the line at Macy’s Santaland, WCBS-TV reported.

Many parents are unaware of his presence at the store, but Elizabeth Kittles is one mother who says she’s been taking her kids to see the secret Santa for the last decade.

“I could have gone anywhere, but I came right here to Macy’s because I knew they had an African-American Santa,” she told WCBS-TV. “There was plenty of African-American families that didn’t know, and when I did tell them, one guy said, ‘They have a black Santa?’ (I said), ‘Yeah they do.’”

CNN reported that it’s unclear how long the tradition has been in place at Macy’s. Reporter Lorenzo Ferrigno went to Macy’s to wait in line and see the black Santa for himself.

“Almost all the elves I encountered seemed to know what I meant by ‘special’ Santa. They ushered me just to the side while an elf went to see whether he was ready,” Ferrigno wrote.

He continued, “While I waited, 25 families were brought in, escorted by elves, to three separate areas to see Santas. Presumably, the Santas are hidden in separate areas so that no child sees more than one.”

Ferrigno said he finally met the black Santa and the two exchanged Merry Christmas greetings before he headed on his way.

When the reporter reached out to Macy’s for comment on the unique St. Nick tradition, spokeswoman Elina Kazan said: “At Macy’s, we have upheld the tradition and believe in our hearts that there is only one Santa Claus, and that Santa is all things to all people who believe in the spirit and goodness of Santa.”

As it turns out, the Herald Square location isn’t the only Macy’s store to offer a black Santa.

The company’s Fountain Place location in Cincinnati also had a black Santa this year, though he didn’t seem to be as much of a secret as the one at the flagship store in New York City:

(H/T: WCBS-TV)

Featured image via WCBS-TV