The Mall of America — at least in St. Nick's corner of the shopping complex — is going to look a little different this year. For the first time since the Minnesota mall opened, a black man will play Santa Claus.
"It's no big deal, I'm still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of color," Larry Jefferson of Texas told WCCO-TV.
Jefferson, who goes by Santa Larry, will be at the Mall of America's Santa Experience for onlyt four days and is available by appointment only. "We are looking to have a Santa for everyone," he said.
Jefferson said other minority children are always excited to see one of Santa's helpers who looks like them.
"It gives them something to identity with, but Santa is still just Santa," he 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."
The Santa Experience owner, Landon Luther, said he is "so excited to have created this opportunity and this experience." He went on to say he met Jefferson at a Santa Convention in Branson, Missouri, over the summer.
"We had close to a thousand Santas there, and I was the only Santa of color," Jefferson said.
The Mall of America, which is the largest mall in the U.S., spanning 4.87 million square feet, has been operating for nearly 25 years.