Santa-sized hugs abound at Northwest African American Museum in Seattle

As Robert Williams puts the finishing touches on his red and white suit, he has one question.

“Where are my milk and cookies?”

Williams, who is a comedian by trade and performs as “Sweeng One,” has transformed into Santa for the first time for the Northwest African American Museum’s annual Black Santa sitting.

His next order of business is to turn the heat down in the room.

“It feels good, it just feels hot,” he said, sweating under the layers of faux fur.

Jarrett and Melanie Datcher were the first in line with their 1-year-old daughter, Makayla.

“This is our first child, and we want her to look at Christmas with a focus on Christ but also with a diverse community perspective,” said Jarrett.

Families of many backgrounds filled the waiting room, making Christmas ornaments and snacking on treats before getting their turn to be photographed with Santa and telling him what they want for Christmas.

Jarrett and Melanie Datcher try to cheer up their daughter, Makayla, who is a bit skeptical of Santa, played by Robert “Sweeng One” Williams at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)
Jarrett and Melanie Datcher try to cheer up their daughter, Makayla, who is a bit skeptical of Santa, played by Robert “Sweeng One” Williams at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

“This is something that black museums offer to their communities across the country,” said LaNesha DeBardelaben, executive director of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM).

“The aim of NAAM is really to enhance diversity and foster community,” DeBardelaben said. “This Black Santa day really allows us to accomplish that aim. It’s just a festive family fun day.”

Williams, sitting in his red and white suit, said it’s about representation: “I just think we need to see it.”

The final two sittings for NAAM’s Black Santa will be 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, see naamnw.org/event.