Mall of America will feature a black Santa Claus for the first time

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The Independent US

After 24 years of hosting the leader of the North Pole, Larry Jefferson-Gamble of Irving, Texas is now the Mall of America’s first black Santa Claus.

“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”

Mr Luther kicked off a nationwide search for a diverse St. Nicholas last Spring so that children of color can identify with the jovial man in red. He met Jefferson-Gamble at a Santa Convention in Branson, Missouri where he signed the actor to a four-day contract in Minnesota.

“It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” he told the newspaper. Still, Mr Jefferson-Gamble said that the kids he meets rarely notice his race.

“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” he explained. “[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love, and peace to girls and boys. Anybody can be Santa; it’s what’s in your heart.”