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Mall of America, nation’s biggest, hires first black Santa

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Associated Press 

In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 photo, Larry Jefferson, playing the role of Santa, smiles with Jack Kivel, of Prior Lake, for photos at the Santa Experience at Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn. The nation's largest mall is hosting its first-ever black Santa Claus this this weekend. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)
In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 photo, Larry Jefferson, playing the role of Santa, smiles with Jack Kivel, of Prior Lake, for photos at the Santa Experience at Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn. The nation’s largest mall is hosting its first-ever black Santa Claus this this weekend. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — The nation’s largest mall is hosting its first-ever black Santa Claus this this weekend.

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 Landon Luther says they “want Santa to be for everyone, period.” With that in mind, he tells the newspaper he launched a nationwide search for a diverse Santa and found Jefferson at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, over the summer. He was the only black Santa among the 1,000 impersonators in attendance.

Jefferson tells WCCO-TV that playing the jolly old elf is “no big deal” to him, saying “I’m still Santa, I just happen to be a Santa of color.”

Jefferson will return home to play Santa in the Dallas-area after Sunday.