Meet Robert and Wanda Austin, the Twin Cities Black Santa and Mrs. Claus. Each Holiday season, the couple don their red suits and Santa’s white beard to bring the spirit of Christmas to local girls and boys at special events around the metro area.
Most Black Santa events are free and open to the public, with weekday, Saturday, and Sunday options — both indoors and outside. Bring a camera so you can add photos to your Christmas Cards.
About Robert & Wanda Austin
When not doing the Santa gig, Wanda is a preschool teacher and Robert is a retired welder and machinist. Robert is originally from Selma, Alabama, and Wanda moved here from Omaha, Nebraska. Both moved to Minneapolis separately on the urging of their families and met at church — the Shiloh International Temple in Minneapolis. The rest is history.
Now known as Nana and Poppy to almost everyone, the Austins have been married for 30 years and have 5 children and 9 grandchildren — all live close except for their oldest daughter who lives in Georgia.
Even though he is from Alabama, Robert loves Minnesota’s cold weather. With our without the red suit, he really is Santa at heart.
The couple started by volunteering at their church as secret Santa and Mrs. Claus for those kids and families who were in hard times. Four years ago, they started working with Strong Roots Foundation. Since then, they have appeared at North Market in Minneapolis and the YMCA.
One of their favorite shops to work is The Dancing Bear in North Minneapolis. Wanda tells us they have the best hot chocolate. Last year, Dancing Bear Chocolate even had a mailbox where kids could drop off a letter for Santa.
Find Black Santa Events
Look for Mr. & Mrs. Claus throughout December at special events. Events are posted on the Twin Cities Black Santa & Mrs. Claus Facebook page in November or early December (and we’ll add them to our own calendar and lists where appropriate).
If you would like to hire the Black Santas (or is it Clauses?), the are willing to go anywhere in Minnesota. Consider hiring them for parades, community events, day care or school visits. Reach out to them through email or phone. Contact information can also be found on their Facebook social media page.