America’s largest mall just did something amazing for the holidays. For the first time in the Mall Of America’s 24-year history, a black Santa Claus will help children ring in the season.
Larry Jefferson, a retired army veteran from Texas, was hired as the purveyor of yuletide magic and holiday spirit for the 2016 Christmas season, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
He’s been dressing as Santa Claus since 1999, and has been helping ring in the spirit by dressing as the iconic holiday figure for his family since he was a child. He is the only black member of the Lone Star Santas, which also celebrates diversity. There are six Hispanic Santas and one Jewish Santa in the group.
Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience where Jefferson now works, said that the decision to have a black Santa was “a long time coming,” and that he sent out a nationwide casting call for a diverse Santa that everyone could relate to.
The Santa Experience lasts for four days, where he will promise to grant children’s Christmas wishes before posing with them for pictures by appointment only. Afterwards, he’ll return to Dallas to work the seasonal Christmas circuit.