Mall of America hires its first black Santa

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) - The nation's largest mall is hosting its first-ever black Santa Claus this this weekend.

The Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis hired Larry Jefferson to play Kris Kringle from Thursday to Sunday as part of its Santa Experience.

Santa Experience co-owner Landon Luther says they "want Santa to be for everyone, period." With that in mind, he tells the newspaper he launched a nationwide search for a diverse Santa and found Jefferson at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, over the summer. He was the only black Santa among the 1,000 impersonators in attendance.

Jefferson says playing the jolly old elf is "no big deal" to him, adding "I'm still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of color."

Jefferson will return home to play Santa in the Dallas-area after Sunday.

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