A black mother who took her daughters to Sesame Place in Bucks County on Saturday accused one of the theme park’s mascots of ignoring her two daughters’ request to high-five each other during a parade to hug a nearby white girl.
The woman shared a video on Instagram showing “Sesame Street” character Rosita giving a high-five to an adult and then wagging “no” at someone else off-screen. The mascot then gestured to reject the black girls. The video does not show the pet’s interaction with the white girl.
The mother, who goes by the name Jodi, said the incident occurred as she and her children were preparing to leave the theme park. They had decided to stop by to see some of the characters from the iconic children’s show. After Rosita ignored the girls, the mother took the problem to a park employee.
“(When) I went to complain, they look at me like I’m crazy,” the mother wrote on Instagram. “I asked the lady who the character was and she wanted to see a supervisor and she told me SHE DIDN’T KNOW.”
The video has been viewed more than 383,000 times since it was shared on Instagram and has since spread to other social media platforms, including Twitter.
Sesame Place, which has operated in suburban Philadelphia for 41 years, initially released a statement denying the mascot’s actions were racially motivated. A second statement Monday night acknowledged that the visitor experience was “not good” and pledged to provide training for employees to ensure a more inclusive park.
The theme park’s original statement claimed that the mascot’s gestures in the video were intended for someone else, off-screen, who had requested a photo of Rosita holding a child. Park pets cannot carry children.
The statement also claimed that the mascot’s costumes “sometimes make it difficult to see in the lower levels”, despite the fact that Rosita’s interpreter seems to have noticed and gestured to the two girls.
“The performer playing the character of Rosita has confirmed that the ‘no’ hand gesture seen several times in the video was not directed at any specific person, but was instead a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd. to hold her son for a photo, which is not allowed,” the statement said. “Rosita’s interpreter did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding.”
Sesame Place said it reached out to the family to apologize and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with “Sesame Street” characters.
“We apologize to these guests for not providing the experience they expected, and we promise to do everything we can to earn their visit and the support of all guests.”
The video sparked online outrage and strong criticism of the theme park, including accusations among some that Rosita’s pet has engaged in a similar pattern of behavior at Sesame Place. It’s unclear if the park rotates costumes for different employees to wear from day to day.
Sesame Place forgets who its original target audience is, you hate to watch it. https://t.co/jB6lBLhbt3
— Blue-eyed white sadness ⚜️💍⚜️ (@Tchalla_Fett) July 18, 2022
I don’t believe in this explanation. It’s nice that they invited the children to meet and greet, but Rosita saw those babies and sent them away. Sesame Place just hopes this happens. pic.twitter.com/UnPIIWQ0MJ
— Brooke 🌊 (@BrookeClyde81) July 18, 2022
This is my local Sesame Place… I am so sad for these little babies. And respectfully, the provided BS answer only made things worse.
You don’t have to worry about me giving them an ounce of my black dollars. https://t.co/FT1SJv6SqN
— JaiCEY_Mona (@JUiCEY_K0UTURE) July 18, 2022
The look of pain on those innocent faces when that Sesame Place character ignored those two girls. Racism starts early and the world constantly reminds you that you are less than. I really hope this doesn’t undermine your self-esteem. They need to be loved.
— Stephanie. (@qsteph) July 18, 2022
It’s annoying because no matter what damage control Sesame Place tries, nothing can undo how these babies were made to feel right now. The looks on their faces are so heartbreaking. https://t.co/orkTmnwbaF
-cf (@kyiarenee) July 17, 2022
The mother’s video also caught the attention of some celebrities, including Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, who spoke about it in an Instagram story.
“Okay, if it had been me, the whole parade would have been on fire,” Rowland said. “Are you serious? You’re not going to talk to my son? And did you see that baby’s face at the end? The little one with the pink on? She deserves an explanation.”
After seeing the first Sesame Place statement, the mother who shared the video later responded in an Instagram story.
“Speaking of adding insult to injury,” the woman wrote. “I really tried to handle this situation as calmly as possible, but I’m hurt, and that response only made things worse! The character could have waved to everyone or just kept walking, but blatantly look at my kids and say no. …Don’t try to tell me he can’t see the lower levels. He looked at them and said no! It’s so embarrassing and hurtful. I will repost this video every day until the situation is resolved. Signed: A hurt mother “.