WELLINGTON, Fla. — Wellington resident Tony Nelson is the first Black Santa Claus in the history of the village.
Nelson says when village employees Paulette Edwards and Kim Gibbons first asked him, he was reluctant.
"I'm always concerned about representing something appropriately. You want to do all the right things, you want to say all the right things, and I wasn't sure," he said.
So, he went home and discussed the opportunity with his wife and granddaughter.
"My wife and my granddaughter said you should do it and I decided to do it and felt good about it. I felt honored to be asked," he said.
Nelson has donned the suit for multiple events such as the Wellington drive-through "Feeding South Florida" event to the "Boys and Girls Club Trunk or Treat."
Deputy Village Manager Jim Barnes says the response has been great.
"I think the extra benefit was just a way to demonstrate the community's diversity," he said.
Nelson says he was inspired to get more involved where he lives because of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May. But also, from an incident in June that involved his granddaughter, who was riding with a group of friends and was singled out and told "you don't belong in this development."
"This is just the beginning; the teaching moments and the change are yet to come by a lot more involvement by myself and a lot of others," he said.
Another initiative Nelson is working on is with a group called "The Crowned Pearls of Wellington," an internship program for high school students here in Wellington.