Lansing will have its first ever immersive Black Santa Experience from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at The Venue located at the Lansing Mall.
Born out of the need for culturally inclusive holiday celebrations, the Black Santa Experience will allow children the opportunity to visit a Santa that looks like them. This year, Santa will be Lansing’s own Metro Melik, owner of Metro Melik 517. You can also find Melik on Stacks 92.1, weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. Of course, you can also read his monthly column “Places” in 517 Magazine.
After visiting Santa, attendees can participate in cupcake-decorating workshops led by award-winning gluten-free gourmet bakery Sweet Encounter Bakery & Café.
“Decorating yummy treats is quintessential to every holiday celebration, and we love offering these experiences,” said Sweet Encounter owner Nikki Frazier.
Thanks to State Farm agent Stacey Lewis, children can make their own Christmas tree ornament to take and write a letter to Santa. Hourly raffles will be held with 100% of the proceeds going to answering the requests of the children.
Nov. 26 is also Small Business Saturday, and attendees can shop the Black vendor marketplace where over 15 local Black-owned businesses will offer their products and services. Many Black entrepreneurs start businesses inspired by the richness of Black culture itself.
“When you support Black-owned businesses, you get products that are valuable for the unique character they bring.” said Chad Jordan, owner of Cravings Gourmet Popcorn in Old Town.
The marketplace will be anchored by Sip Happens, a custom wine glass shop that recently introduced a line of Black Santa items and inclusive Christmas tree ornaments. Owner Karla Wagner said, “for far too long, retailers have made the unfortunate mistake of ignoring the $1.6 billion spending power of Black consumers when they create their product offering for the holiday season. Shirley Chisolm said. ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’ I think we should have our own table and am thrilled to sit alongside these amazing small businesses. It’s my goal to create an offering for us that is true to our culture and amplifies the excellence of Black entrepreneurs.”
Over the years, collecting Black Santa’s has risen in popularity, there’s even a Facebook group of 28,000 Black Santa enthusiasts. New Jersey resident Crystal Kittles claims to have the largest collection of Black Santas, but Lansing residents Mitzi Allen, Phebett Ingram and Desiree Quinney may have something to say about that. They have individual collections that span six decades and have specially curated an exhibit, The Black Santa Retrospective, for all to see and enjoy.