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Despite the alleged War On Christmas we've all been hearing about for decades, Santa Claus is just as popular as ever. His appearance, however, is starting to look a little different. Earlier this month, the Mall of America hired its first ever Santa Claus of color to appear for a four day stretch, and while there were some light grumblings from a smattering of Grinches, the majority of families were just as happy to deliver their wishes to a jolly fat man who looked just a little bit different.
The Santa in question is named Larry Jefferson, and he's a retired veteran. He bought a Santa Suit almost twenty years ago to surprise his nephews, and the passion grew from there. He's regularly appeared throughout Dallas as the legendary character in the time since. According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, executives for the Mall of America spotted him at a Santa convention earlier this year, and the timing worked out perfectly.
Here's what Jefferson had to say...
"That was the only week I had available and the only week they had available. One of those perfect timing types of things."
The subject of race swapping and gender swapping classic characters has exploded to the forefront of Hollywood over the past decade or so. We now have an Asian Watson on Elementary, female Ghostbusters and, yes, a black Santa, the latest of which makes a whole lot of sense given the Christmas Season requires thousands of people, of all shapes and sizes, to put on the beard and help children everywhere to get excited.
You can check out Jefferson in his Santa costume below, courtesy of his Facebook...
Will Jefferson's appearance at the Mall of America inspire more people of color to buy a large red coat? I certainly hope so. Christmastime, more than anything else, is about spreading joy. It's about being selfless and making wishes small and big come true. Dressing up as Santa isn't the most lucrative job in the world. It requires people be apart from their own families during the season. It requires people to work weird hours and let strangers sit on their laps. In short, it's not the most desirable way to earn some extra cash. It's a sacrifice, and the more people of all backgrounds are willing to make it, the better place this country is going to be in.
So, here's to you, Larry Jefferson. Keep on keeping on.