By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Santa Experience inside the Mall of America is bringing a unique experience to Twin Cities families this year.

For the first time since it opened, a black Santa Claus will help spread the Christmas cheer.

Santa Larry Jefferson is from Dallas and will spend four days taking pictures and videos for families by appointment at the Santa Experience.

“It’s no big deal, I’m still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of Color,” Jefferson said.

He is one of thousands of Santa’s helpers, who pose for pictures inside malls and shopping centers across the country.

“The Santa Experience is so excited to have created this opportunity and this experience,” said Landon Luther, the owner of The Santa Experience.

Luther met Jefferson at the Santa Convention in Branson, Missouri, over the summer.

“We had close to a 1,000 Santas there, and I was the only Santa of color,” Jefferson said.

He says kids of color really get a kick out of seeing a Santa who looks like them.

“It gives them something to identity with, but Santa is still just Santa,” Jefferson said. “Just Saturday, I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am, but Santa comes in many different colors.’ He said, ‘Oh,’ so I gave him a candy cane, he ran off with other kids.”

Jefferson, or Santa Larry, is only at the Santa Experience inside the Mall of America, by appointment only. He will be there Thursday until Sunday.

For more information, click here. You can also call 952-854-9064 to set up a meet and greet with Santa Larry.

Reg Chapman