Remember Mall of America’s Black Santa? He Lives in Irving!

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IRVING -- It's hard not to remember Larry Jefferson if you've met him. and these days, everyone feels like they know the guy who became Mall of America's first black Santa Claus.

"I'm all about positive thinking because if I were to think negative thoughts all the time, then it takes you down," Santa Larry said. "Santa Claus can't be down. I've got too many kids in the world to deliver toys to!"

It just so happens that statement-making Santa who made waves in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" settles down in the North Pole... of Irving.

"I have a neighbor I've lived by for two years, and he is from Minnesota. Just Friday, we were talking, and he comes up to me and was like, 'I didn't know it was you,'" Jefferson laughed.

The 30-year retired Army vet first played Santa as a child helping his dad. He picked it up again for his family in 1999, but he hit the Saint Nick big leagues this year, getting the four-day gig at Mall of America.

It didn't come without detractors, some going as far as to claim Santa can only be white.

"Anybody can be Santa Claus, and anybody can bring you joy," he said. "You've just got to be able to open up your heart and receive it."

Even better, Santa Larry has kept a good sense of humor about the whole thing!

"I don't worry about those people! I'm Santa Claus! Wait til Easter," he said. "I'll be the Easter Bunny. I'll be the chocolate Easter Bunny!"

If you see any of Santa Larry's appearances, the age and ethnicity of the visitors is across the board, but one thing is common -- everyone is smiling.