Soul Santa tradition continues virtually at the Black History Museum

'Oh, I get a big kick out of this here. This is one of my pride and joys of my life.'
Posted at 7:08 PM, Dec 10, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- For Floyd Brown, this is the most wonderful time of the year.

For the third consecutive year, Brown a Recreational Instructor of the Richmond Department of Parks and Cafeteria Manager of Richmond Public Schools, is taking on the annual traditional role of Soul Santa at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

“When I came, I just cease this opportunity and I wanted to make it mine. I wanted to put my touch on it,” Brown said. “This is one of my pride and joys of my life right now.”

Soul Santa has been a holiday feature for the museum for the past 25 years.

Mary Lauderdale, the Visitor Services Manager at the Black History Museum, says Soul Santa plays a big part for its visitors, especially the children in the Jackson Ward community, who at times can’t contain their excitement.

“When they come on the door, their faces just light up. I’ve seen them run in the door and go, 'Santa!' And just run and push in front of everybody," Lauderdale said. "It’s hundreds of kids. Their lined up. And it’s Black, White, Asian. Anybody you could think of."

But unfortunately, this year, the children will not have the chance to take a photo with Soul Santa and will have to settle for the next best thing and see him virtually.

Last Saturday, he appeared in a Zoom call that was followed by arts and crafts making. This weekend he’ll participate in a holiday storytelling event. Soul Santa also has something special for kids who are registered.

“I will be personally hand-writing them a letter with my signature on the end and wishing them a happy holiday,” he said.

Brown truly embraces being a Black Santa Claus and first started dressing up as one in 2014, because he felt there’s was a need for some children to have someone they identify with. A big reason the Black History Museum created Soul Santa a quarter century ago.

“I love that role! I want them to see that there’s somebody that’s just like them and has the same meaning as the other, and that we are truly hear together to have us a special holiday,” Brown said.

“It’s just a wonderful thing to see children to see a Santa that looks like them, that is easy to relate to. It’s something that I never experienced when I was growing up,” Lauderdale said.

No matter what your used to seeing Santa look like, there’s one thing Santa never stops doing so it’s important we remember this:

“I may see you on the screen," Santa said. "I may see you walking in your neighborhood. You may see me in my car. Just know I’m always watching.”

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