Eight years ago, America elected its first black president. Now for the first time ever, Mall of America has hired its first black Santa.
That might seem like a far-out analogy, but around this time of year, Santa Claus is the most powerful man in the country – to kids, anyway. Most of them can't wait for a chance to sit on Old Saint Nick's lap and share their holiday wish lists. Taking your little ones to the local shopping center to see Santa has become a holiday tradition for many families.
And this year, the biggest mall in America has a Santa for everyone. For the first time in MOA's 24-year history, a black man will play Santa Claus, the Star Tribune reported.
It's something that the mall's Santa Experience (which has run the photo studio at MOA for 10 years) has wanted for a long time.
“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience told the Strib. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”
Why did it take so long?
Luther told the paper he has been looking for a more diverse Santa for awhile now, but the search has been "like finding a needle in a haystack."
Then he finally found the one black Santa out of 1,000 impersonators at a convention in Missouri, KARE 11 said.
His name is Larry Jefferson, and he's a U.S. Army veteran and self-proclaimed "Santa for All." According to his website, Jefferson has been playing Santa since 1999. He's even a graduate of Santa University in Colorado.
Jefferson told WCCO-TV that children of different races are always excited to see him.
“It’s no big deal, I’m still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of Color,” he said.
He'll be at the mall over the weekend until Sunday, Dec. 4 – though all of his appointments are already booked. But it may be possible to get on the waiting list.
Most people are stoked
Here's what they're saying on social media: