It’s always tragic when a big cat attacks a human; all the more so when the victim is a child. Animal instincts don’t spare the young. But when the cat is actually a guy in a suit, well, what can we say? That’s messed up.
The recent news story of a Tigger character smacking a kid at Walt Disney World reminded me of a similar incident that happened to some family friends.
It was at another popular Orlando theme park a few years ago that a costumed character attacked two adolescent boys who were friends of my nephews. The story goes that the character in question was doing one of his regularly scheduled appearances in the park when these kids, in an attempt to get his attention – he was swarmed by kids at the time – tugged on his arm.
From all accounts it was an innocent gesture, but the costumed fellow didn’t take it that way. He punched both kids, then continued to pummel one after he hit the ground. This is a completely true story. I shit you negatory.
It gets better.
The Orlando Police were called, and the boys were hauled off for a stay at the local juvenile detention center. Correct. An adult theme park character – well, let’s call him the “Grouch Who Punched Kids Senseless” – walloped a couple of kids, and they got arrested and fitted with orange jumpsuits. I could tell you exactly who the guy was, but he’s probably still around somewhere, and I don’t want to get, you know, beaten up.
The end result was, the family could have taken the Grouch to court but didn’t want to put their very traumatized kids through that. Juvey was enough for them. The boys did have to appear before a judge, and were required the write apology letters to the man in the suit. I’m still not sure how park officials, police and a judge decided that the kids should be punished, but that’s what happened. They were with a large group and no one saw them do anything wrong.
I have since entertained notions of visiting the park and accidentally bumping the Grouch in front of a swift-moving tram, to the horror of most visitors, and to my own delight. But Grouchy seems to be well-connected, so I dare not. It could go very badly for me. Besides, who knows if the person in the suit is still the same one?
I guess the lesson to be learned from these incidents is: Don’t mess with the man in the suit.