On July 17, a mother of two young Black girls shared a video showing the worker—who was dressed as the muppet Rosita—seemingly ignoring her daughters as they held their hands up for a high five during the parade at the theme park.
"THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!" the mom captioned the Instagram video. "Then when I went to complain about it, they looking at me like I'm crazy. I asked the lady who the character was and I wanted to see a supervisor and she told me SHE DIDNT KNOW!!"
After the video went viral, Sesame Place issued a statement saying that the costumes the employees wear can "sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests."
The park added, "The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding." They also said that they have reached out to the mother of the girls to extend their apologies and welcome them back to the theme park "for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters."
Kelly slammed Sesame Place in the comments section of their post on July 17, writing, "Those gorgeous girls will never forget that feeling! THEY ARE KIDS!!!!! You should be ASHAMED of yourselves for this pathetic statement."
That same day, the former Destiny's Child singer also shared the clip of the incident on her Instagram Stories, writing, "TF! This just made me So mad!"
"The Wire" actor Wendell Pierce reacted to the viral clip on Twitter July 18, calling the moment "violent, scarring, psychological abuse," while "Community" actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted that she has "complete disdain" for the way the young girls were treated.
After more parents of other children came forward, sharing videos of their kids going through similar experiences as the two girls, Sesame Place released another apology.
"We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it's not ok. We are taking actions to do better," the theme park shared to Instagram July 18. "We are committed to making this right. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests. 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 making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks."