An incident Saturday at Sesame Place, a Sesame Street theme park in Philadelphia, is being called a “misunderstanding” by the complex, which apologized.
An Instagram video from July 16 shows two small Black girls who seem excited to meet Rosita, a Sesame Street character during the park parade. The footage shows the character interacting with other spectators before appearing to wave off the girls in a gesture and moving on.
The mother posted along with the video that “THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO, then proceeded to hug the little White girl next to us!” The mom, who is named on social media only as Jodi, said she will never step foot in the park again.
Several prominent voices immediately spoke out in protest, including Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland. The entertainer posted on Instagram that “had that been me, the whole parade would have been in flames.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said the performer’s behavior was “disgusting” and tweeted that the girls should not have been “blatantly singled out and ignored.”
In a statement, Sesame Place said Sunday that the scene was not as it appeared on the video clip. The person in the Rosita costume actually waved “no” several times to a guest in the crowd asking that the character hold their child for a photograph — which is not allowed.
The park said that the costumes sometimes prevent performers from seeing “at lower levels” and at times cause them to “miss hug requests from guests.”
The statement said the performer is “devastated” about the misunderstanding.
The park reached out to the family with an apology and invited them to a special meet-and-greet with the Sesame Street characters. The mother, however, said on Sunday that there had been no effort to contact her. She said the entertainment complex’ statement was “disrespectful.”
Calling out the behavior of a costumed character in the middle of a parade seems a bit much, but the video certainly gave the mother cause for concern. It should be a misunderstanding that both sides could walk past, but once attorneys start rumbling about injustice, that’s not likely.