a Fox News Channel anchor started a firestorm of controversy by declaring
emphatically that Santa Claus is white--period. And while it's true that Santa
is a European historical figure, many believe that Old St. Nick is much bigger
concept than his historical origins. A concept that knows no ethnic or color
that's not news to the folks at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall in South Los
Angeles. The mall is been one of the few in the country and perhaps the only
one in Southern California to feature African American and Latino santas.
Langston Patterson and Mario Vasquez have been greeting thousands of parents
and their children at the mall for more than a decade.
rare are Patterson and Vasquez? Consider this: one school that specializes in
training Santa Claus students recently graduated a class of 2,200. Of those,
only three were black. And that is why Baldwin Hills Crenshaw is so far ahead
of the curve. Mall management says it was just the right thing to do in a
community that is predominantly black and Latino. But it also makes great
business sense. The multicultural Santa program has been a huge success. People
come from as far away as the Antelope Valley, Inland Empire, even San Diego
just to see Patterson and Vasquez. But snapping pictures with the two and
telling them what they want for Christmas are not the only things these
customers do. They also shop and spend lots of money there.
that being said, Patterson says, the bottom line is, no matter what color Santa
comes in, he always has the same message for the kids he sees. Be on your best
behavior all year long if you want a visit from Santa come Christmas. But
Patterson believes that message is often much more effective when the Santa
delivering it looks like the kids he's talking to and, in the case of Vasquez,
speaks Spanish, a language with which many of the children and their
parents are familiar.
Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.