Sesame Place Philadelphia apologizes after mom posts video of daughters’ experience with ‘Rosita’ at parade

LANGHORNE, Pa. (WPVI) — Sesame Place apologizes for a family’s experience at the park last weekend that was captured in a now-viral video.

After the continued backlash following an initial statement, the family place now says it knows what happened isn’t OK and is committed to making it right.

In a statement late Monday, the theme park said it would conduct training for employees so “they better understand, recognize and provide an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for our guests.”

The statement was in response to a video a mother posted online showing her two black daughters reaching out to Sesame Street character “Rosita” during a parade at Langhorne Park in Bucks County on Saturday.

The video shows the character giving other viewers high-fives as she approaches the two children.

Jodi Brown and her attorney told CNN on Tuesday that Sesame Place character Rosita is intentionally racist toward her family.

The mother alleges that the character waved “no” and ignored her daughter and niece while interacting with other children.

“Right after the character passed them, there was another little girl next to them who was of a different race and [Rosita] kissed her,” Brown said.

She said the character hugged the other child with two arms. “By then I had already stopped recording the video. … I was upset, so I stopped the video because I was like ‘what just happened? “”

“The fact that this even happened, the fact that this is going to be a key memory for them when it comes to Sesame Place is actually disgusting and unbelievable,” Brown added.

In its original statement on Sunday, Sesame Place said in part, “The performer portraying the character of Rosita has confirmed that the ‘no’ hand gesture seen repeatedly in the video was not intended for a person in particular…it was more of a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold her child for a photo that is not allowed.”

Sesame Place said, “The costumes the performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see on lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests.”

In the initial statement, Sesame Place said the performer “did not intentionally ignore the girls” and was “devastated by the misunderstanding.”

“We apologize to these guests for not delivering the experience they expected and we are committed to doing our best to earn their visit and support as well as those of all guests,” the statement read. initial.

But amid the fallout, several new videos have surfaced that appear to show similar incidents.

The park has not responded to those videos, but says it contacted the family from the video last weekend and invited them to a special occasion to meet the characters in the park.

On Monday evening, Sesame Place released a follow-up to the initial statement:

“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience at our park on Saturday; we know that’s not OK. We are taking steps to do better. , recognize and provide an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for our customers.

For over 40 years, Sesame Place has worked to uphold the values ​​of respect, inclusion and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job of making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks.”

B’Ivory LaMarr, who represents the family, said the park’s response was not enough.

LaMarr stressed that he is still investigating what happened and considering all available options.

Brown and LaMaar plan to have a press conference on Wednesday with more details.

“At this point, we call for a sincere and genuine apology, acknowledging the harm that has been caused by the outrageousness of the actions and to do good, to repair the damage that has been done to these two young girls,” LaMarr said. .

Sesame Workshop, the organization behind Sesame Street, issued its own statement:

“Sesame Workshop is aware of the recent incident at Sesame Place Philadelphia, which we take very seriously. What these children have experienced is unacceptable.

We have been in contact with Sesame Place, our licensed park partner, and they have assured us that they will arrange bias training and a thorough review of how they interact with families and guests.

As a global non-profit educational organization with a mission to help children become smarter, stronger and kinder, Sesame Workshop has always stood for respect, inclusion and belonging and is committed to to provide the highest quality engaging experiences for all children and families. We hold our partners to the same high standards. We will continue to work with our long-time partner, Sesame Place, to ensure appropriate action is taken and incidents like this do not happen again in the future. »

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