The Sesame Place saga continues, as yet another family has come forward with allegations against the theme park.. A Black father has filed a class-action lawsuit against Sesame Place’s parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Quinton Burns alleges his daughter Kennedi Burns and other Black guests were ignored by the theme park’s costumed characters on June 8. Yesterday (July 27), Burns filed the lawsuit in a Philadelphia federal court for “pervasive and appalling race discrimination,” as reported by the Baltimore Sun.
Burns claims that as his family attended a “Meet and Greet” at the Philadelphia location, “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.” In addition to yesterday’s lawsuit filing, a press conference was held to address the situation. Malcolm Ruff is an attorney hired to represent the Burns family. Ruff asked that SeaWorld provide transparency on how their Sesame Place performers interact with kids. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, calls for $25 million in damages.
Documents state that “Elmo,” “Ernie,” “Telly Monster” and “Abby Cadabby” did not interact with Burns’ family, “ignoring them and all other Black guests in attendance.” According to CNN, the lawsuit names the employees as defendants. It also claims the company was aware of its employee’s actions. “SeaWorld had actual knowledge that John Does 1-4 held personal beliefs of racial bias towards Black people and that John Does 1-4 had the propensity to discriminate against Black people based on their race or color,” court filings add.
During yesterday’s press conference, Ruff stated, “We stand before you here today simply trying to fight and protect little Black children and their fundamental civil rights.” Sesame Place said they will look into the lawsuit and “are committed to [delivering] an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests.” The children’s theme park has faced heavy criticism since a video of a Rosita performer ignoring Black children earlier this month went viral.