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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Dreezy Claus, Chicago’s Beloved Black Santa, Is Still Spreading Joy For Kids During Pandemic Winter

From local events to national interviews, Chicago's favorite Black Santa is still booked and busy.

Dreezy Claus poses with his team at a recent holiday event in Millennium Park.
Vashon Jordan, Jr
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BRONZEVILLE — Dreezy Claus is still finding ways to brighten the holidays during a difficult pandemic year.

Andre Russell, a South Side native, has dressed as Santa Claus — or, rather, Dreezy Claus — for years and become a sought-after figure during the holidays. This year, he’s remained busy spreading joy across the city, he said.

Russell spent the better part of 2021 making appearances at events across the region while charming morning show hosts near and far. But the highlight of 2021 was being invited by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to participate in the city’s 108th tree-lighting ceremony in November, making him the first Black Santa to have that honor.

“It was like a dream,” Russell said.

And Russell’s Dreezy Claus hasn’t neglected his duties to kids: He’s been getting his fair share of toy requests, with kids asking for everything from Barbie Dream Houses to PlayStations.

His favorite request so far: “One kid asked for a remote control dragon. I don’t even know where to find one, or if any even exist. I thought that was dope,” Russell said.

Credit: Provided.
Dreezy Claus (r) joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot for the city’s tree lighting ceremony in November.

Russell’s also gotten a kick out of an uptick in requests for miniature sports cars — specifically the Lamborghini Aventador, another big-ticket item.

Another highlight of 2021 was the release of “Dreezy Claus and the Magic Coloring and Activity Book,” a followup to Russell’s children’s book, “Dreezy Claus and the Boy Who Didn’t Believe.” The activity book is filled with challenges to stimulate young minds.

“I’m definitely going to create a series of books. Dreezy Claus will have more adventures,” Russell said. “I’m always getting inspiration from conversations with children and my own imagination. I have a few things in mind, so now I’m working on getting the funding to back it.”

In the meantime, Russell will be working until Christmas night to keep smiles on the faces of local boys and girls.

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