WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A Norfolk man said staff at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg would not allow him into the park’s Howl-O-Scream event Friday because he was wearing a kilt.
Hex Nottingham said he has worn a kilt to the grocery store and even mowed the grass in one. He wore one to Howl-O-Scream in a previous year without any problem, he said.
“I proudly wore this today, because I was coming to Busch Gardens…I’m the victim of discrimination and I’ve had my culture and my heritage greatly insulted,” Nottingham said in a Facebook video posted this weekend that has been shared more than 1,000 times and viewed more than 50,000 times.
“This is what I was wearing,” Nottingham told WAVY News Monday, dressed in a sweatshirt, kilt, sash, baseball cap, and boots.
“The reason why I wear this is because obviously the Busch Gardens Williamsburg is themed “the Old Country,” which celebrates many European countries, including Scotland, Ireland, England, and that’s a major part of my heritage, so I proudly wear this when I go to the park because I’m celebrating with them,” he said.
The Busch Gardens website says costumes are not allowed in the park, especially not during Howl-O-Scream, for safety reasons.
“They’re just shaking their heads and she says, ‘I’m sorry, you can’t come in. There’s no costumes allowed,'” Nottingham said, referring to staff at the park Friday.
Nottingham said his outfit was not a costume and he does not think he looked like a cast member at the park because he was also wearing combat boots and a baseball cap.
“I do understand their point with there’s a safety and a liability, but at the same time, I think they went overboard with thinking I resemble a cast member,” Nottingham said.
Nottingham said the park wrote to him and reiterated the policy after he sent a note, but he does not plan to return as long as kilts are banned.
Busch Gardens is closed on Monday, but a spokesperson sent this statement to WAVY News:
There has been a lot of discussion over the past weekend about wearing costumes or clothing that may be misconstrued as a costume while visiting Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. Here is the park’s official costume policy:
For the safety of our guests and performers, we do not allow costumes in the park any time of the year, but especially not during Howl-O-Scream.”
This policy is in place to ensure the safety of guests and team members who want a safe and enjoyable experience. The park does not wish to alienate anyone who wears traditional clothing representing their culture or heritage. However, if the clothing could confuse guests into thinking the wearer is part of the official Howl-O-Scream experience then we will not allow it in the park.