Nov 14, 2022 - Things to Do

Santas at the Mall of America get more diverse


Santa Pat, Santa Larry and Santa Allan. Photos courtesy of The Santa Experience

The Santas appearing at the Mall of America this holiday season will be more diverse than ever before.

What's new: The cast of six St. Nicks at The Santa Experience will include an Asian Santa for the first time, owner Landon Luther tells Axios. Two of this year's Santas are Black.

Yes, and: Two Santas are bilingual — another first. One speaks Spanish and another Cantonese.

What they're saying: Luther tells Axios the new hires are part of his long-term goal to create and normalize a Santa experience that is more representative of local communities.

  • "There are so many cultures that celebrate Christmas. Luther says. "It's important for children to have the opportunity to visit a Santa that looks like them, speaks like them and can see themselves represented by such a positive feeling and magical figure."

Flashback: The longtime MOA tenant made headlines when it hired its first Black Santa in 2016.

  • Luther says the response to that move has been overwhelmingly positive. Some families fly in just for the chance to meet a Santa who is a person of color.

Between the lines: An ongoing Santa shortage has made hiring the seasonal workers difficult in recent years. Finding professional Santas of color has been even harder.

  • "It's a needle in a haystack," Luther says. "It's not like you just put an application out there and it's going to happen."

What they're doing: Luther casts a wide net, recruiting his Santas from across the nation.

  • Santa Allan, who is Asian, is flying in from Dallas for his December appearances at MOA.

What's next: The Santa Experience opens Nov. 19 and runs through Dec. 24.

  • Visitors can book in-person or virtual visits with the Santa of their choosing in advance. Tailored visits are available for families with children with special needs.

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