12/05/2016 02:39 EST

Black Santa: These Photos Prove Why Diversity Matters

America's largest mall made headlines last week when it hired its first black Santa.

Santa Larry Jefferson was all over the news, mostly for good reason. From last Thursday to Sunday, the retired army veteran donned the red suit, gave out candy canes and listened to children's wishes at the Mall of America, which is located in Minnesota.

“This is a long time coming,” said Landon Luther in an interview with the Minnesota Star-Tribune. Luther co-owns the mall's photo studio and hired Jefferson. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”

But not everyone was in favour of the mall's choice and actually protested via social media. The Star-Tribune even had to turn off the comments section on the story about Santa Larry.

But the kids didn't care about all the debate happening among adults. They just wanted to see Santa. And for some, it was the first time they got to meet a Santa who looks just like them.

“It gives them something to identity with, but Santa is still just Santa,” Jefferson told CBS Minnesota. “Just Saturday, I was doing an event, and one child said, ‘Santa, you’re brown,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am, but Santa comes in many different colours.’ He said, ‘Oh,’ so I gave him a candy cane, he ran off. Kids are just kids. They are very innocent. They just love Santa.”

And from the look on these kids' faces, meeting Santa Larry was magical.

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