by G. Brown
It’s that magical season when children believe in dreams and the impossible. Even people with no religious affiliation can agree that a holiday centered on peace and goodwill is worth celebrating.
It’s also the time of year when retired U.S. Army captain and Gulf War veteran Larry Jefferson looks forward to dusting off his uniform and proudly wearing it again. No, not Army fatigues, but his Santa suit.
After 17 years as the man with the white beard and the red suit, Jefferson made history in 2016 by becoming the first African-American Santa at Minnesota’s Mall of America. Jefferson blazed the trail with humility, honor and a deep awareness of its historical awareness saying, “It gives kids from Minnesota a Santa who looks like them, but, frankly, kids love Santa no matter what color you are…“My lines are filled with kids — and filled of diversity…Black kids, white kids, Asian kids, Hispanic kids — they all come to see Santa.” But all some adults could see was the color of Jefferson’s skin. Like the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, their hearts were two sizes too small to embrace the spirit of the season so instead they hurled racial epithets and trolled Jefferson online.
And in a year when America has seen some of the worst racial collisions since the civil rights struggles of the 60s, you’d expect 2017 to be one of the gloomiest Christmases Santa Larry has ever seen. But so far, that’s not the case. NBC News reports, “This year, there weren’t many racist reactions on social media like before and there has been an outpouring of support. One woman came up to me in tears,” Jefferson said. “She said she always wanted to see a black Santa but had never seen a black Santa until she saw me. She was very emotional.”
In spite of racists attempts to discourage Santa Larry, the agency which staffs the Santas for the holiday at the mall says Santa Larry was one of their most successful Santas who attracted the most “enthusiastic crowds.” So when the agency called, Santa Larry packed up his gear and made the long trip from his home of Dallas—er, the North Pole to be there for the kids.
Some of the parents are more excited to see Santa Larry than the kids. Parents like Melanie Henderson Mickie who NBC says “proudly posted pictures on Jefferson’s Facebook page of her baby propped on Jefferson’s lap.On Monday, Baby Girl will be 4-months old, and to celebrate, she had her first Christmas photos taken with Santa Larry at the Mall of America today!” Mickie wrote on Facebook.”
Another parent on Santa Larry’s Facebook page posted this loving tribute…
Santa Larry embodies everything good about the holiday bringing joy to families of all races and smiles to the faces of both young and old. He reminds us that this is the season for miracles by being the miraculous.
Merry Christmas Santa Larry!