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Mom says Black girls shunned by Sesame Place character, theme park calls incident a ‘misunderstanding’

A mother’s viral video from a Sesame Place Philadelphia parade over the weekend shows the character Rosita allegedly signaling “no” toward her two daughters.

PHILADELPHIA — A mother who attended a parade at Sesame Place Philadelphia over the weekend claims a theme-park employee shunned her two Black daughters.

The video posted on Instagram under the account name “Jodi,” shows Sesame Street character Rosita, high-fiving white paradegoers before appearing to motion “no” to the woman's daughters, who are Black.

The girls looked excited to meet Rosita, and are seen in the video shared on social media with their arms outstretched toward the character, but Rosita appears to shake her head and walks right by the girls. Rosita then walks out of frame, and the girls turn around in confusion.

The viral video has sparked outrage, and Destiny’s Child’s singer Kelly Rowland has taken to her own Instagram asking for an explanation. Rowland mentioned in an Instagram story that if she was in the mother’s position, “the whole parade would have been in flames.”

Sesame Place released a statement Sunday in response that says Rosita’s “no” gesture was not toward the two girls. In fact, it “was not directed to any specific person.”

In an Instagram post, the theme park says the character was not shunning the girls, but instead responding to multiple requests from the crowd to hold their child for a photo. Sesame Place says that is against company policy. 

“The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding,” the post reads. "Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms. That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment." 

Sesame Place also says the costumes worn by characters make it hard to see at lower levels and that performers sometimes miss hug requests from small children. The park has since invited the family back to the theme park for a meet-and-greet, but Jodi says she will “never step foot in Sesame Place ever again.”

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