SAN DIEGO — It's not easy to find a Santa of color in San Diego, but those that we did find say it's important that kids know that Santa looks just like them.
Traditionally Santa has a red button suit, white bushy beard and big black boots.
“Yo, yo, 'Merry Christmas,'" said The Black Santa.
This year Santa is a big deal for one of his elves.
“I'm happy that I found a Santa that looks like me. And because I normally don't get to see a lot of Santas that look like me,” said Nuni Sadler.
The 8-year-old is helping out The Black Santa in front of the Grinch tree at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park, where it all started last year while taking family photos. Now he has a new suit, spreading joy and he's for hire.
“Just people kept coming up and kid just kept looking at me or call them over give them candy canes,” said The Black Santa.
The demand for Santas of color is resonating with Westfield Plaza Bonita Mall which is in a high Hispanic population.
“We feel fortunate here because we're able to offer a fan experience that really represents that community,” said Matthew Quinn, Marketing Manager, Westfield Malls. “Typically we usually do every year, but they are hard to find sometimes, but it's something we truly thrive through strive for.”
Sofia Almazan was in the mall with her 2-year-old son and didn't know there was a Hispanic Santa who could speak to Santiago.
“It was really nice that he was able to pronounce it correct and it kind of hyped up my son a lot,” said Almazan.
For the past 25 years that inclusion has always been a tradition at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA holiday parties in Mountain View, where a diverse group of Santas ride in on their sleighs.
“Even for kids that aren't Black or Latino, to have Santas that are different is important, because it's just important to see different people,” said Anna Arancibia, Executive Director, Jackie Robinson Family YMCA.
That sense of belonging is something that James Price didn't experience with Santa as a child, until he started helping Santa out at the YMCA.
“I would ask my parents well, what about the Black Santa? You come to believe that Santa is White and until you get that mindset to change, that's the way you're going to be you're conditioned to do what you've been taught to do,” said Price.
Community activist Francine Maxwell says that condition starts with intention, she says don't accept Santa is one race, Black Santa decorations were hard to find so like many black families, her parents, would paint Santa's face brown.
When you set the tone for what you want your children to be, to learn, then you have it at home,” said Maxwell.
While San Diego has made strides, Asian families still can't find a Santa that looks like them in the county.
Remember anyone can be Santa you just have to kindness in your heart.
“I hope this is the beginning to years and years of a you know, tradition in that you know, Black Santa is definitely around,” said Amani Sadler.
On Saturday December 18, the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA will host its annual holiday party that brings in at least 1,000 children. Gifts, holiday crafts and activities including a diverse Santa will be included.
You can take your picture with Hispanic and Spanish speaking Santa at Westfield Plaza Bonita Mall until December 24 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To follow The Black Santa or hire him for your party or event visit his Facebook page.