By Stephen Weir
If you run into Kente Claus at a party or a fundraiser before Christmas and he asks what you want under the tree, tell him a Double-Double and a bag of Tim Bits and you may just get your wish, provided there is a Tim Hortons close by.
DeWitt Lee, a Toronto businessman and long-time community volunteer and supporter of worthwhile causes here in the city, the Caribbean, and Buffalo, NY, has a not-so-well-kept secret: he is Kente Claus!
Thanks to a new Tim Horton’s 30-second TV commercial, Lee is probably becoming the best-known Black Santa Claus in the country.
“It’s running all month,” he told the Caribbean Camera yesterday. “I’m the 2023 Tim Hortons Christmas Claus!”
The spot isn’t pushing a product; it is a good news advertisement for Christmas. Kente Claus has a big role in the ad as viewers are asked, “Where do you believe Santa’s magic comes from?” Spoiler alert: the answer is, “Maybe Santa magic isn’t magic at all. Maybe it’s the kindness within each of us, and that’s something we all can believe in! Happy holidays from Tim Horton.”
As Kente Claus, Dewitt brings an Afro-Caribbean presence to his role as a volunteer Santa. Even his custom-made suit, lined with Kente Cloth from Ghana, tells a story and reflects his African origin. He fuses Christmas joy, African proverbs, Caribbean folklore, and Biblical references into the original Christmas story that connects Ghana, Bethlehem, and Egypt. He assumes the role as the chief joy distribution officer for the Claus Corporation, whose job is to send toys to children in the Caribbean and Africa.
Dewitt, or should we say Kente Claus, has been seen around the GTA for many years. He was at Sunday’s Santa Claus Parade, greeting kids at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor Street for the 7th year in a row. Since his surprise parade appearance, Kente has been kept as busy as Santa’s elves.
Catch his next appearance on Sunday, December 3rd, at Ajax’s HOLIDAY POP-UP MARKET. Kente Claus will be in the house from 2 pm to 4 pm. If you can’t make it to any of Kente’s upcoming events, just turn on the TV—Kente’s coming to town on just about every Canadian television channel from now until the big night.