Man teaches Santa Claus comes in all different colors

Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 08, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A family in Grand Rapids is putting its own spin on things this holiday season and bringing some diversity to Christmas.

It all started from a Facebook poll made by Paulette Cancler. She asked her friends if they had ever seen a black Santa Claus. Most people said no, but loved the idea, letting their kids see a Santa Claus that looks like them. The rest was history.

10 years ago, Bruce Cancler started dressing up as Santa for pictures at Guiding Light Mission. This year, he's opening up his home for families to take their photos with him.

"Just come and take pictures with Santa Claus," said Bruce. "We have a nice background for you and everything."

His wife, Paulette, also known as Mrs. Claus got the idea after a poll on Facebook revealed most people hadn't seen a black Santa before.

"People were commenting that they've never seen that or only in Detroit," said Paulette. "It was really positive. I told my husband I think we should do it this year because of the response we got."

Now every weekend until Christmas, Bruce is putting on a white beard and wig and spreading some Christmas cheer.

"It brightens their day up," said Bruce. "Kids will say they've seen this Santa Claus, but now they've seen the other Santa Claus. A lot of parents probably teach their kids that Santa comes in all races, but they never see them. Now they get to see him in person. It puts a smile on their face."

Bruce and Paulette say it's about letting all kids see that Santa can look just like them.

"For years to come people are going to remember this," said Paulette. "I hope we can do this annually so maybe kids that came when they were five can come back when they're older and be touched by this."

"We had about six people come last weekend," said Paulette. "One of them was actually a dog, so even dogs can come take a picture with Santa. Just don't bring like horses and all that kind of stuff. I think it's going to be a really huge impact."

The Cancler's are also giving away free hats and gloves to kids who come to take pictures with Santa Claus.

If you're interested in getting your picture taken with Santa Claus, you can contact Paulette for more information at 616-734-3394 or email her at