This season is Larry Jefferson-Gamble favorite time of year—and this Christmas will be his best ever. The Texas-native is going all the way to Minnesota to be the Mall Of America’s first-ever Black Santa.
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Jefferson-Gamble recently told The Huffington Post, that he attended Santa school in 2014, at about the same time he retired from a career in the military. “I enjoy making people smile and be happy. During the holidays, people go through a lot,’ the self-described “Christmas lover’ said.
He recently told the Star Tribune that while he plans on granting the children’s holiday wishes and passing out candy canes, he also a special message for them: “Clean your rooms, eat your vegetables and do what your mommy and daddy say all year,” he laughs.
Now Jefferson-Gamble won’t for be there for the holiday entire season—his stint is only four days from this Thursday to Sunday—but Landon Luther, co-owner of the mall’s Santa Experience told the Star-Tribune that this moment has been a “long time coming” in the mall’s 24-year-history.
“We want Santa to be for everyone, period,” Luther stressed.
And Jefferson-Gamble understands what his very presence means to children of color.
“Just Saturday, I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,’” he recently recalled on CBS Minnesota. “And I said, ‘Yes, I am, but Santa comes in many different colors.’ He said, ‘Oh,’ so I gave him a candy cane, he ran off with other kids.”
“It gives them something to identity with,” Jefferson-Gambler says, “but Santa is still just Santa…kids love Santa no matter what color you are”