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For the first time in the Mall of America’s 24-year history, a black Santa will greet families for annual Christmas photos.

The shopping center in Minnesota has employed Larry Jefferson, a retired army veteran from Texas.

Larry Jefferson will greet children this weekend at the shopping centre’s Christmas experience.

Co-owner of the photo studio, Landon Luther, has told the Minnesota Star Tribune that he’s been looking for a more diverse Santa that children of color can relate to since 2015.

“This is a long time coming,” Landon Luther said.

Image source Facebook

Image source Facebook

“We want Santa to be for everyone, period. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. He considers himself a Santa for all.”

Landon Luther says he got Santa Sid, who’s been having his photo taken with children for the last 20 years, to look for a black Santa.

He finally tracked one down in July at a Santa convention in Branson, Missouri, where hundreds of impersonators convened for a “Kringle family reunion”.

Larry Jefferson is working at the Mall of America until December 4, before he returns to his own seasonal circuit in Dallas, Texas.

He says children don’t care what color he is.

“What they see most of the time is this red suit and candy,” Larry Jefferson told the Star Tribune.

“[Santa represents] a good spirit. I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys.”

Larry Jefferson said he started wearing a Santa outfit in 1999 and used to visit his nephews at their house because they were too sick to go to an official experience.

He grew a white beard after retiring from the US army in 2015 and since then has graduated from Santa University in Denver, Colorado (he also has a degree in sociology).

Larry Jefferson booked up already all weekend and there’s now a waiting list for appointments.


The Black Lives Matter group has organized protests in Minnesota and California on one of the busiest retail days of the year.

Minnesota protesters temporarily closed the international airport and interrupted Christmas shopping at the Mall of America.

Police said a total of 15 people were arrested at both places, mostly for trespassing or obstructing justice.

The demonstrators are angry over a police shooting of a black man in Minneapolis.

Jamar Clark was shot dead last month by officers responding to an assault complaint, in one of a number of recent incidents around the US. Activists say he was shot in the head while handcuffed.

There have been daily demonstrations in Minneapolis over Jamar Clark’s killing.

Hundreds of people took part in the protest at the Mall of America, one of the largest in North America, where Black Lives Matter organizers promised to congregate in defiance of a judge’s warning that the shopping center’s owners could legally block the demonstration.

Police said it was an “unauthorized demonstration” and at one point described the situation as “very, very dangerous”.

Photo CBS News

Photo CBS News

Police and mall security staff were speedily deployed against the protesters, warning that any who did not depart immediately would be arrested. For a while the area surrounding the mall was on lockdown, but most stores were only closed for about an hour.

Separately eight protesters blocked southbound traffic on the 101 freeway near the California city’s international airport were arrested on December 23, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Photos of the demonstrators on social media showed them holding a sign demanding justice for Mario Woods, a black man shot dead by police who is suspected of a San Francisco stabbing.

Black Lives Matter is a loosely organized movement which was formed following protests over police killings of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York and other cities.

Police use of force against African Americans has been an ongoing issue.

Protests have been held nationwide for more than a year after a series of incidents, some of them fatal.

Mall of America is implementing their parental guidance rule all day on Black Friday, banning anyone under the age of 16-years-old has to be accompanied by someone who is over 21.

The Bloomington, Minnesota mall is one of the most crowded places to be on the busiest shopping day of the year, and though they normally just use the rule on Friday and Saturday evenings, they are extending those hours this year to stem off trouble.

On December 27 last year, the chaos of the crowds was coupled with a fight the involved a chair-throwing melee, so this year mall administrators are looking to lessen any damage.

“We had never opened at midnight on Black Friday prior to last year,” Mall of America’s vice president Dan Jasper told NBC’s Today.

“We had 217,000 people that day, including some unaccompanied kids who are 14, 15. Just for the safety of everyone, we expanded the policy.”

Crazed bargain hunters started lining up Black Friday deals at commercial stores throughout the country as early as Monday evening.

Best Buy shoppers in California have started pitching tents outside several store locations, more than 100 hours before the company’s big holiday sale begins.

Shoppers in Arizona are also getting an early start in line, equipped with soda, water, snacks, laptops and air mattresses.

Mall of America is implementing their parental guidance rule all day on Black Friday, banning anyone under the age of 16-years-old has to be accompanied by someone who is over 21

Mall of America is implementing their parental guidance rule all day on Black Friday, banning anyone under the age of 16-years-old has to be accompanied by someone who is over 21

According to CBS San Francisco, more and more retailers across the country will require big buyers to hand over their driver’s licenses so that the store can keep a record to place alongside your purchase history.

In doing so, they will be able to keep tabs on who makes multiple returns after the busy shopping day. If an individual abuses the system, they may have their right to return unwanted goods taken away for future purchases.

The flood of bargain hunters could mean an even bigger headache for holiday workers this year.

Retail employees recently began protesting the earlier shifts they were given this Black Friday as several chain stores have decided to open earlier than previous years.

Target, Walmart, Sears and Toys R Us are all opening their doors between 8 and 9 p.m. this Thanksgiving, two to four hours earlier than last year.

That news led to the organization of a national Black Friday walkout among Walmart workers and more than 40 petitions on Change.org protesting this year’s Thanksgiving shifts at several big chain retailers.

Adding to the mayhem of hundreds of thousands of people expected at the Mall of America, they are following in the footsteps of other retailers who are doing what they can to draw the ready-to-spend crowds on Friday.

The Star Tribune reports that American Idol winner Phillip Phillips will be performing inside the Mall, which is the second-largest in the country in terms of space throughout the entire United States.

Part of the problem was that the Mall, which typically welcomes more than 40 million people per year, became a hotspot for teenagers to see and be seen, as opposed to simply going through their Christmas shopping list.

“Last year we experienced a large influx of youth, more than we had anticipated,” spokesman Bridget Jewell told the Pioneer Press.

“We don’t want it to turn into a place for people to come and hang out.”

Administrators are hoping that the adult guidance policy is good on all fronts.

“Retailers love the policy. When we first implemented it, there were concerns that sales would drop. But sales increased following the implementation and remain strong. It encourages more families to come out with their kids and sales went up,” Dan Jasper said.

“Every single tenant was thrilled because they know it’s a policy that keeps everyone safe and leads to increased sales.”