This year, Old Saint Nick is a Black man in the iconic red suit.
Mother Talia Young, founder of Black Santa’s Workshop, created a space for children of color to be able to celebrate the holiday by interacting with Black Santa.
According to NJ Advance Media, Young opened the workshop four years ago after observing that her daughter was not connecting with the mall Santa in her holiday photos.
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“I noticed that my child, similar to other Black and brown children, wasn’t seeing themselves,” said Young, 39, of West Orange. “Other families weren’t feeling like they were a part of such a holiday that so many of us enjoy and love.”
“Black Santa’s Workshop is a customized space, that provides unique and culturally relevant holiday picture moments that will impact families for years to come,” Young said. “Outside of the picture moments, we provide the opportunity for families to bring their children and participate in really fun moments, like decorating Christmas cookies or decorating pancakes while having breakfast with Santa.”
Customers can book an appointment for a photo session with Black Santa at 10-14 Main St. in West Orange, every Thursday in December from 3-8 p.m. Additionally, each Saturday throughout the month, the workshop hosts Breakfast with Santa.
“This is when kids come to enjoy the space by having an indoor snowball fight, take pictures with Santa and enjoy a nice breakfast,” she said. “Our breakfast includes Christmas-themed waffles that the kids can decorate, eggs, turkey bacon and more.”
Each Sunday in December, customers can decorate freshly baked cookies with Blue’s Baking Bash, along with a hot cocoa bar. Children are also invited to write letters to Santa.
“The Black Santa letters are to help kids keep the imaginative spirit of Christmas alive,” Young said. “We all know that the magical essence of this holiday is kids’ excitement of a jolly man that’s been watching to see if they have been naughty or nice.
“What’s more fun than sending a letter asking for what you want and waking up on Christmas to all your wishes met?”
Young hopes the workshop allows children of color to create memories and new traditions.
“The response from kids and parents has been nothing but positive, which is overwhelmingly comforting,” she said. “We always find that the adults have more fun than the kids. I have always been one who enjoyed Christmas so to have built something that is filling a void within my community is the greatest gift I could truly ask for.”