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The Largest Mall in the United States, Mall of America, Hires Its First Black Santa

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The Santa Experience/Leila Navidi

For the first time in its 24-year history, the Mall of America has hired a black Santa to spread Christmas joy, pose for photos and listen to kids’ wish lists, according to the Star Tribune.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Over the years, the largest mall in the United States has received complaints (and rightfully so!) that the previous Santas (all of whom were white) did not accurately represent the millions of diverse people that come through the mall each holiday season. “This is a long time coming,” said Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience, which has been in charge of running the appointment-only photo experience at the mall for 10 years. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.” The mall does offer a wait-in-line for a quick chance to say “Hi” to Santa for the masses, along with the Santa Experience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The search for a culturally diverse Santa began earlier this spring, said Luther. They eventually discovered Larry Jefferson, a retired U.S. Army veteran from Texas, at a Santa convention in Branson, Mo. “It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Luther. “He considers himself a Santa for all.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jefferson is greeting guests from Thursday to this Sunday by appointment only, although he is already booked solid on Saturday and Sunday. On his role as Santa, Jefferson says, “What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” he said, patting his sleek velvet coat. “[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”

COLLEGECANDY Writer
I am a UC Berkeley grad and lover of wine, cheese, travel and reality television. Feel free to contact me at erin.alexander@teamcoed.com. You can follow me on Instagram @you_feta_believe_it.