By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Santa Claus is making history at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, after being open for 24 years.
WCCO reported that the first black Santa is coming to the mall’s The Santa Experience photo studio.
Larry Jefferson, from Dallas, is the history-making Claus.
“It gives the kids an opportunity to have a Santa who looks like them,” Jefferson said. “It gives them something to identify with, but Santa is still just Santa.”
Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience, told the Star Tribune the search for a Santa “for everyone” began months ago.
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) December 1, 2016
Luther went to a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, and found Jefferson. Out of about 1,000 Santas, Jefferson was the only Santa of color there.
“It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Luther told the Star Tribune.
Despite making history, Jefferson is modest.
“It’s no big deal. I’m still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of color,” he told WCCO.
“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,” he said. “Kids are just kids. They’re very innocent. They just love Santa.”
Mall visitors can make an appointment to have photos taken with Santa Larry Thursday through Saturday at the Mall of America website.
“This is a long time coming,” Luther said. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”