This Santa is a Henderson graduate

— Photo: Dallas Texas Santa Claus (Facebook)

Larry Jefferson has portrayed Santa Claus during the holiday season since 1999.

He recently completed a four-day stint as Santa at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. It was the first time in 24 years that the mall had hired a black Santa Claus.

Jefferson’s gig at the mall has made him quite a celebrity. He has been featured by local and national news outlets and appeared on various television programs.

But most people don’t know that this Santa is a graduate of Henderson State University who recently established the Larry Jefferson Scholarship Fund at his alma mater.

The scholarship will benefit an African American student who is a graduate of Nashville (Arkansas) High School.

Jefferson graduated from Nashville High School and received his B.A. degree in sociology from Henderson in 1988. While at Henderson, he participated in ROTC and received his Army Officer Commission as a second lieutenant in the Infantry Corps. Jefferson was also a Reddie cheerleader and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

He currently serves on Henderson’s Alumni Board.

Jefferson retired from the U.S. Army Reserve after serving 30 years, including an overseas tour during the Gulf War from 1990-1992, and in Kuwait and Afghanistan from 2012-2013.

He recently retired as special projects manager and program manager at the Texas Workforce Commission in Dallas where he had been employed since 1993.

But he doesn’t plan to retire as Santa anytime soon.

Read more about Jefferson's portrayal of Santa in this WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE.