Children can meet and greet Dreezy Claus at Belle Salle Banquets in Aurora, Illinois tomorrow afternoon
Dreezy Claus, affectionately known as Chicago's Black Santa, will be arriving by reindeer to greet children in Aurora tomorrow afternoon from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at Belle Salle Banquets near the intersection of Eastern and New York Street. It's being called a celebration of representation, inclusion and diversity.
Sponsored by the Aurora African American Heritage Advisory Board, the Mayor's Office of Equity & Inclusion and Belle Salle Banquets this will be Dreezy Claus's first visit to Aurora, Illinois. As part of this historic event, children will be able to tell Dreezy Claus what they want for Christmas, take a picture with him, and receive a free copy of The Dreezy Claus Magical Coloring Book.
Registration is required and space is limited.
Who is Dreezy Claus?
Andre Russle, Dreezy Claus's alter ego, has been playing Black Santa for ten years. Residing on the South Side of Chicago, this Santa boasts not only the red and white suit but silver dreadlocks as well. Dreezy Claus remains on a mission to spread Christmas cheer decked out in a plus-sized red-and-white suit, his beaming smile framed by a full beard and dangling dreadlocks the color of Silver Bells.
He began the role during his charity work for the annual gift drive hosted by Smith Center for Community Advancement annual gift drive which is held at the Rose of Light Missionary Baptist Church. He also enjoyed performing the role for the enjoyment of close family and friends. For about three years he has also been acting as Santa Claus in a more professional capacity at different locations around the Chicago area.
Russle says that while representation and inclusion are important goals, his overall purpose is simply to put a smile on the face of everyone he sees. He does recognize however, that many families have never seen a black Santa Claus before and understands the importance of this for all those raised to believe that Santa had to be a white man no matter where you went or what country you were in.
Last month, Dreezy Claus was the first black Santa to light the official Chicago Christmas tree. He said of the experience:
“To actually be the first African American Santa to light the Christmas tree was a wonderful experience. Representation matters so much. For someone with my image, my look, to be up there on the stage as Santa Claus for the city of Chicago is a big opportunity. It was a good feeling, and I got a lot of support from the community.”
Russell says he is trying to increase representation by encouraging other African Americans to play Santa as well as writing stories that tell about the Christmas experience from the viewpoint of a Black Santa.
When not playing Santa, Russle serves as the Dean of Students at LEARN Hunter Perkins Charter School [K-8] on West 83rd Street on the southside of Chicago where he also acts as a behavioral interventionist.
Information About the Event
- Date: December 20, 2021
- Time: 5:00pm to 7:00pm
- Location: Belle Salle Banquets, 1920 East New York Street, Aurora, IL 60502 (less than an hour from Chicago)
- Registration and Tickets: You can register and find tickets for the meet and greet with Dreezy Claus on the website for the city of Aurora.
Meet Dreezy Claus, Chicago's Black Santa: