Updated, July 28 at 10:45 a.m. ET: A lawsuit has been filed against Sesame Place amusement park for $25 million by a Baltimore-based family after Leslie Mac’s video went viral.
Quinton Burns claims his daughter Kennedi Burns was ignored by four Sesame Place employees dressed as “Sesame Street” characters during a meet-and-greet on June 18. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the lawsuit which seeks class action status. The suit was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia against SeaWorld Parks, the owner of the Sesame Place, for “pervasive and appalling race discrimination” since “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”
Published, July 19 at 11:30 a.m. ET: Nonprofit Sesame Workshop announced that licensed Sesame Street theme park Sesame Place, located in Philadelphia, will conduct bias training after an “unacceptable” incident occurred there this past Sunday.
A now viral video posted by digital strategist Leslie Mac showed a performer dressed as Sesame Street character Rosita waving off high-fives from Mac’s four-year-old daughter Paige and her friend.
“This is how #SesamePlace treated these beautiful Black children,” Mac captioned the video, which has over 7.3 million views and incited other parents to share their experiences at Sesame Place.
Destiny’s Child alum Kelly Rowland, Wendell Pierce, and Audra McDonald commented on the “disgusting” behavior of the theme park employee.
Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted, “Every Black woman was once a little Black girl who made this face when the way things are for us in America first broke her heart.”
Sesame Workshop officially responded, issuing a statement on social media that read: “What these children experienced is unacceptable. We have been in contact with Sesame Place, our licensed park partner, and they have assured us that they will conduct bias training and a thorough review of the ways in which they engage with families and guests.”
Sesame Place shared an initial response defending the performer’s position, citing that the costumes can affect visibility and assuming the Rosita character was declining a request to hold a child for photos, which is against park policy.
“We spoke to the family and extended our apologies and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters,” the statement included.
Mac slammed the response, claiming that Sesame Place never reached out. “This statement is the first & only time the family heard about this offer & Sesame Place has cut off email communications,” she tweeted. “The entire statement is a lie.”
Sesame Place Philadelphia added a new, pinned tweet after Sesame Workshop, their licensed partner, addressed bias training. A representative on behalf of Sesame Place Philadelphia wrote, “We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests.”
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) July 18, 2022
— Sesame Place Philadelphia (@SesamePlace) July 18, 2022
#BabyPaige & her cute lil friends went to @SesamePlace this weekend to celebrate Paige's 4th birthday & this is how #SesamePlace treated these beautiful Black children. I'm HOT. pic.twitter.com/wATjpRzUF1
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) July 17, 2022