By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A very special Santa Claus has once again landed in the Twin Cities.

Santa Larry is back to listen to the Christmas wishes of anyone who visits him at the Mall of America. Last year the mall made history bringing the first black Santa Claus to Minnesota.

Santa Larry’s visit to the WCCO newsroom was welcomed with hugs, and lots of honest talk about our behavior over the past year. Santa Larry hopes being in Minnesota allows people to concentrate on the true meaning of the season.

“It’s about the love, joy, peace, happiness and hope during the holiday season, and that’s what I want people to understand,” he said. “Put aside whatever differences we may have and embrace the celebration of the Christmas holiday spirit and the season.”

Santa Larry says he appreciates meeting people who embrace all the season has to offer.

“I didn’t know the impact I would have,” he said, “but it was a groundbreaking experience and I think we are ready to move on and make it a better holiday,” he said.

Santa Larry feels his jolly presence is needed this year more than others. He says he learned to ignore the hate that comes his way because he is not a “traditional-looking” Santa. He’d rather focus on letting young and old alike know what it takes to stay off his naughty list.

“Have respect for each other, respect and care, show compassion and love and our world will be a better place,” he said.

Last year, children came from as far away as Texas to sit on Santa Larry’s lap…and tell him their Christmas wish.

You can see Santa Larry beginning tomorrow at the Santa Experience inside the Mall of America. Reservations are encouraged.

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