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Mall Of America Will Have Its First Ever Black Santa This Year

The Mall of America will be hosting a black Santa Claus for the first time in its history this upcoming Christmas.

Larry Jefferson-Gamble will travel from Dallas to Minneapolis to portray Santa. He has dressed up as the Christmas figure since he was 12 years old, when he took care of presents that year because his dad was sick. He ended up reprising the role years later when his nephews got sick around Christmas, and he bought a Santa suit to surprise them.

Upon retiring from a career in the military in 2014, Jefferson-Gamble enrolled in Santa school and has served as Santa numerous times since then.

“I love Christmas,” Jefferson-Gamble said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I enjoy making people smile and be happy. During the holidays, people go through a lot.”

He stated that most children do not seem to care that he is a black Santa. “Kids love Santa no matter what color you are,” he said. “Plus if you’ve got candy you’re a winner.”

Jefferson-Gamble appeared on CBS Minnesota where he discussed why his portrayal of Santa at the Mall of America is both historical and important, especially for children of color.

“It gives the kids an opportunity to see a Santa that looks like them,” Jefferson-Gamble said. “It gives them something to identify with.”

“Just Saturday, I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,'” he recounted during his CBS interview. “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.”

If you happen to live in Minneapolis or will be visiting during the holidays, you can schedule an appointment with Santa Larry at the Mall of America’s website, where it includes more details on its “Santa Experience.”

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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