Everyone is falling in love with the Mall of America's first black Santa.

Larry Jefferson-Gamble's transformation into Santa Claus began when he was just 12 years old. He remembers that Christmas fondly.

It was the year his father hurt his back around the holidays and told him, "I need you to be Santa for me," the Washington Post reported. So little Larry, excited about his new role, went to work gathering all the presents for his 11 siblings and put them under the tree. It was a big moment.

Many years later — 17 of which were spent playing the jolly old man in a big, red suit at the professional level — Larry has taken on the gig of a lifetime.


"Santa Larry" will be the first black Santa at Minnesota's Mall of America, the largest shopping center in the U.S., this holiday season.

For the first time in the mall's 24-year history, one of the jolly men giving out hugs, smiling for photos, and listening to plenty of wish lists from kids won't be white.

The Mall of America isn't the exception, either. At the national scale, Santas of color are "far and few between," according to Larry. And that's a big reason why he does it.

“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther, co-owner of the mall's Santa Experience, told the Star Tribune. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”

Photo via of the Mall of America, used with permission.

Sarah Schmidt, senior public relations manager at the mall, says slots to sit on Larry's lap at the Santa Experience — where families can schedule an appointment in advance to see St. Nick — are completely booked up throughout the next few days.

For many people, he's more than your average Kris Kringle.

Santa Larry, a U.S. veteran, means something special to a lot of boys and girls out there — and their parents.

Jefferson says he's talked to families who've driven hours just to see him, the Washington Post reports, with one woman telling him that she'd been waiting 25 years to meet a black Santa.

Unfortunately, Santa's skin color still seems to ruffle some people's feathers. An editor at the Star Tribune, for instance, says the paper had to turn off its comments section due to nasty feedback on its article about Santa Larry. And the debate over Santa's race has been known to fire up a few talking heads in the 24-hour cable news world.

Photo via the Mall of America, used with permission.

To kids, however, Santa Larry's skin color is no big deal.

“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” Larry says. Santa represents "a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”

And when they do notice that he doesn't look like most other Santas, it's a good thing, he says.

“There needs to be more Santas of color, because this is America, and kids need to see a Santa that looks like them,” he says. “That helps kids to identify with the love and spirit of the holiday, you know?”

True

This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Marcos Alberti's "3 Glasses" project began with a joke and a few drinks with his friends.

The photo project originally depicted Alberti's friends drinking, first immediately after work and then after one, two, and three glasses of wine.

But after Imgur user minabear circulated the story, "3 Glasses" became more than just a joke. In fact, it went viral, garnering more than 1 million views and nearly 1,800 comments in its first week. So Alberti started taking more pictures and not just of his friends.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less