NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Santa Claus paid a visit to North Little Rock Saturday afternoon, and he had a message to share – one of positivity, but also representation.
"We love being able to represent Christmas and our culture, as a part of Christmas," Santa said. "It means the world to me to be out here and be a representative of the community."
He may live at the North Pole, but Santa also keeps a home in North Little Rock. Today was a big one for him, too – it's his first appearance of the year!
"This is my first real big public event, so this has been great," he said. "There's been a non-stop line since we got here, and everybody seems to love it. Everybody came out to celebrate, so it's been great."
But the reason Santa is here is because last year, not everyone loved it. At his North Little Rock home, he put up decorations that looked just like him – Black Santa.
In response, someone sent him a letter that read:
"Please remove your negro Santa Claus yard decoration. You should not try to deceive children into believing that I am a negro."
Santa doesn't know who did this, but he isn't letting it slow him down.
Instead, he's loading up on holiday events to remind people what Christmas is about.
"To turn something ugly into something positive is a dream come true to me," he said.
For parents like David Gitonga, representation is important. He's trying to make sure his kids grow up understanding that there are people who represent them.
"For some people, they go through Christmas with the same things over and over again, they start to forget the idea of Christmas," he said. "But this is just kind of a nice way to refresh that for them, and make them look at Christmas in a whole new way."
So as we head into the holidays, Santa has a message to share.
"It's just, 'Hello Santa,' I'm Santa," he said. "It's simple as that."
Don't let negativity get in your way, and don't let anyone stop you from being you.
"Santa Claus, Santa, Christmas – it's for everybody," he said. "Christmas is for everyone, and everybody should be represented."