By Tessa Berenson
December 2, 2016

Larry Jefferson, a professional Santa Claus, got a big career bump this holiday season when the Mall of America hired him out of an annual Santa convention. Working at the largest mall in the country is a plum gig for any professional Santa Claus, but for Jefferson it’s an even bigger deal: he’s the mall’s first black Santa.

“There need to be more Santas of color, because this is America, and kids need to see a Santa that looks like them,” Jefferson told the Washington Post. “That helps kids to identify with the love and spirit of the holiday, you know?”

As kids sit on his knee this month and snap photos with him, Jefferson will also be hoping to capitalize on his newfound celebrity, telling the Post, “I want to go to the White House!”

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But, Jefferson who describes being Santa as “a calling,” says in the end there shouldn’t be so much fuss about the mall’s first Santa of color. “It’s hilarious to me, I’m really humbled by it,” he said. “Everyone’s making a big deal about this because I’m a black Santa. But gosh, I’m just Santa!”

[The Washington Post]

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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