Sesame Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is removing all traces of the Rosita character from its park as it handles a $25 million lawsuit in which a costumed employee is accused of racism toward black children.
Attractions and restaurants with Rosita’s face on them have reportedly been closed since the incident. Rosita has also been banned from meet and greets, the daily parade, according to Sesame Place staff members who spoke with Daily Mail.
“With recent events, Rosita hasn’t been around much anymore,” a staff member told the outlet. “She’s been taken off the parade entirely since the racism allegations.”
“None of the characters walk the street in the parade anymore, and any meet and greets for her have been called off,” the staffer continued. “This is all because of the allegations, they don’t want anyone potentially making the same claims.”
“Essentially, Rosita has been canceled and I don’t think she’ll be back any time soon,” the staff member added.
Another Sesame Place staffer told Daily Mail “the Rosita restaurant has been closed for the last few weeks.”
“There hasn’t been a real explanation as to why, but staff are assuming it could be to do with the accusations,” the staff member added. “The meet and greets have also changed recently but that could also be because of the heat with some other characters.”
Other staff members, however, claimed the characters were on rotation for meet and greets, and not all of them appear on the parade.
Stores selling Sesame Street merchandise also appear to have either removed items featuring Rosita or have fewer out on display, Daily Mail reports.
Last month, Sesame Place was slapped with a $25 million racial discrimination lawsuit after a costumed employee dressed as Rosita was seen on video appearing to ignore black children.
Sesame Place Philadelphia initially responded by releasing a statement insisting that “the costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests,” adding that the employee dressed as Rosita “did not intentionally ignore the girls.”
“Our brand, our park, and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,” the statement added. “That is what Sesame Place is about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.”
But following a wave of criticism over the initial statement — as well as the video of the employee appearing to snub the black children — Sesame Place Philadelphia released a followup statement saying that the incident was “not okay.”
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience,” the statement read. “We know that it’s not okay. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize, and deliver an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience to our guests.”
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.