(NewsNation) — A Baltimore family suing a Sesame Street-themed amusement park for $25 million in federal court over claims of racial discrimination say multiple costumed characters ignored their 5-year-old daughter during a meet-and-greet event.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of a video, shared widely on social media, showing two other Black girls apparently being snubbed by a costumed employee during a parade at the park.
Sesame Place apologized in a statement after the video went viral, saying the costumes worn by performers can make it difficult to see below eye level. Park officials said they spoke with the family, apologized, and invited them for a special meet-and-greet with characters.
“I think everybody really needs to look at the fact that it was a parade. Unfortunately, when those characters are in parades like that, they can’t see everybody,” Rubin Ervin, an entertainer and former character at a major theme park, said during an appearance on NewsNation’s “Banfield.” “At the same time, I think the fact that when the character was walking, they were making negative movements. I think that kind of added to the perception that they were trying to discriminate against that kid. I mean, perception is reality.”
Ervin said he, too, has been accused of being discriminatory while in a character’s costume.
“It sucks sometimes. Minor actions look bigger when you’re inside of a big fluffy costume. And so even motions, like doing a thumbs down or shaking your head no is going to come off negative, ” Ervin said. “At the end of the day, those little young ladies had a bad time with one of their heroes, and I think that sucks. I hope that it gets fixed, and I hope everybody realizes that they’re really there to have fun with those people,” Ervin added.
“Banfield” sent senior story editor Paula Froelich to Costume Castle in Loveland, Ohio, to test it out herself.
Aside from being very warm inside of the costume, Froelich said she struggled to see and move around.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.