Black Santa Claus Larry Jefferson Is A Hit At The Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash Larry Jefferson was the first black Santa Claus at the Mall of America in Minnesota. He was popular with the kids, but he sparked on online backlash from people who felt Santa can only be white.
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Black Santa Claus Is A Hit At Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash

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Black Santa Claus Is A Hit At Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash

Black Santa Claus Is A Hit At Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash

Black Santa Claus Is A Hit At Mall Of America, But Faces An Online Backlash

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504930200/504930201" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Larry Jefferson was the first black Santa Claus at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Courtesy of The Santa Experience hide caption

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Courtesy of The Santa Experience

Larry Jefferson was the first black Santa Claus at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

Courtesy of The Santa Experience

Larry Jefferson has been putting on a big red suit and perfecting his best ho, ho, ho for nearly 20 years.

The retired Army captain plays Santa at shopping malls, holiday parties and charity benefits. He hit the big time this year when he was handpicked at a Santa convention to appear at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

And by all accounts, kids and parents at the mall loved him. But when the story spread online, the negative attacks starting pouring in — because Jefferson is black.

Jefferson says the online negativity didn't surprise him — "because of the times in which we are living in" — but, he adds, "that backlash was only a small percentage."

For Santa Larry, as he likes to be called, playing Santa pretty much seems to be his calling in life. "That's what all my friends are telling me, despite what the mean-spirited Grinch people are saying online," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "They're going to get coal ... for sure."

Click on the audio button to hear the full interview.