NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark – A North Little Rock man is gearing up for Christmas differently this year because last year he received a letter in the mail critical of his Christmas decorations. 

This time last year, a grinch sent him a letter telling him to remove his 8 foot tall Black Santa and move out East with the rest of his kind. 

His story later went viral, and now it’s that time of year when people start decorating, playing Christmas music and this year he’s turning things up a notch.

“My love of Christmas actually comes from growing up and my dad decorating houses back in East Texas,” Chris Kennedy said. 

From East Texas to North Little Rock, Chris Kennedy and his family are keeping the Christmas spirit alive. 

“The display is always about my daughter and what she wants,” Kennedy said. “She wants to decorate right now  and we haven’t done it yet just because of time, circumstances with work and honestly a bit of the backlash from last year…”

Since he shared his story, he’s received all types of support from friends and strangers, anything from words of encouragement to more decorations. 

“One of them sent me an inflatable nativity scene where Jesus, Mary and Joesph are all brown,” Kennedy said. 

Following the initial story with Kennedy, he said he was invited to Santa Camp with New England’s Santa Society earlier this year. 

“I’m officially a certified Santa, and it was one of those experiences where it was just great to meet,” Kennedy said. “400 plus years of Santa experience and be encouraged by that group of men.”

Now, he’s all dressed up and ready to go. He even took time to work on his beard. He’s been invited by the city of North Little Rock to be Santa for their annual Northern Lights Festival. 

“I know there are little kids out there that look like me, that will get to see a Santa that looks like them and that’s what brings me the most joy,” Kennedy said. 

Along this journey with him, his wife and the one who inspired his jolly spirit. 

“My daughter is super excited, she is excited to become my elf,” Kennedy said.

The Northern Lights Festival is free and open to the public, people can take pictures with Santa. That event is Saturday, November 20 from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Argenta Plaza, located at 510 Main Street. 

Santa will host more community events next month. He’s also doing virtual Santa visits and his first appearance for that will be Friday. The virtual meet-ups can be booked through Santa’s Club.