Photo depicting a male- and white-presenting youth wearing a black surgical face mask posing thoughtfully while a Black Santa Claus listens attentively.

PHOTO ESSAY: Santa’s Back

by Susan Fried


I’ve taken photos of kids with Santa Claus for many years, including a brief stint as a Santa photographer at the downtown Seattle Nordstrom in the mid ’90s. Christmas hasn’t officially arrived for me until I see a child staring up into the eyes of Santa, trying to remember what they want him to bring them for Christmas. 

This year, Santa made an appearance at Rainier Avenue Radio’s First Annual Holiday Bazaar in the Columbia City Theater. Unlike last year, a fully vaccinated Santa was able to spend a little time with each child, receiving their Christmas wish lists and allowing their family to get a quick photo. 

When I first started taking photos of children visiting Santa, it was pretty rare to see a Black Santa in our city. Thankfully, we now have Santas nearly as diverse as the South End community. 

There’s still time to get a photo with Santa in Seattle. Here’s a partial list of where you can find Santa:

The Santa House
Saturday, Dec. 18, 1–4 p.m., & Sunday, Dec. 19, 5–7 p.m.
@ The Renton Civic Theatre

VIrtual Black Santa
Saturday, Dec. 18, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., & Sunday, Dec. 19, 2–6 p.m., hosted by NAAM
Sign up on Eventbrite.

Photos with Santa
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
@ The Blu Grouse

Black Santa
Sunday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
@ Langston Hughes
RSVP on Eventbrite.

Black Santa in Burien
Monday, Dec. 20, hosted by Acts on Stage Theater Company
Register online.

All photos by Susan Fried.


2021

Photo depicting a Black- and female-presenting youth sitting on the lap of a Black Santa Claus, both are smiling broadly. The background is decorated with various Christmas and holiday themed items.
Photo depicting a white-presenting infant wearing a bright red Santa-themed outfit, mid-yawn, sitting on the lap of a Black Santa Claus who is smiling happily.
Photo depicting a Black- and male-presenting youth in a bright orange NIKE hoodie with an expression of surprise and glee as he approaches a Black Santa Claus.
Photo depicting a white-presenting infant wearing a bright red Santa-themed outfit, giggling, sitting on the lap of a Black Santa Claus who is smiling happily.
Photo depicting a Black- and male-presenting youth in a bright orange NIKE hoodie sitting on a Black Santa Claus's lap and smiling goofily.

2020



Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, commercial work — plus shes been The Skanner’s Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washington Daily, the Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

📸 Featured image by Susan Fried.

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