The Star-Tribune reports The Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis hired Larry Jefferson to play Kris Kringle from Thursday to Sunday as part of its Santa Experience.
Santa Experience co-owner says they "want Santa to be for everyone, period."
He launched a nationwide search for a diverse Santa and found Larry Jefferson at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, over the summer.
He was the only black Santa among the 1,000 impersonators in attendance.
The announcement was so controversial, the Star Tribune had to turn off its comments.
Some Kris Kringle fans are really excited about the announcement.
It's 2016 and we geeked over hiring our first black Santa at MOA . 😑— 🤴🏾King Of Africa (@KingKileo) December 2, 2016
Not everyone is excited. Some think it's long overdue.
I'm still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of color.
Jefferson told WCCO-TV that playing the jolly old elf is "no big deal" to him. "I'm still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of color."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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