San Francisco’s ‘Evil Elmo’ is back in Santa Cruz as the Cookie Monster

By Hannah Lozada

Well, ‘Evil Elmo’ is back, this time by a wharf near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But the person behind the costume isn’t wearing an Elmo suit. Instead, he is dressed as another character from Sesame Street, the Cookie Monster. The Santa Cruz Police Department identified the man as 59-year-old Adam Sandler (not the famous actor). His real name is Danny Mark Sandler. Sandler makes money by making parents pay for their children to take pictures with him dressed as the Cookie Monster. 

In late January 2023, near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Wharf, locals and tourists started to report sightings of the “Cookie Monster” (Sandler). Joyce Blaschke, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz Police Department, stated that Sandler hasn’t broken any laws in the city of Santa Cruz yet. 

On February 21, 2023, Blaschke spoke in a KRON4 interview. She stated that the department was receiving calls “… from people who say [Sandler] is ‘creepy.’ “ Later into the interview, she warned the public to “…not engage with this individual…”

According to the police and several news reports, Sandler has a bad history. Some San Francisco residents may remember a man who harassed the public while wearing a suit of a famous Sesame Street character Elmo around the mid 2010’s. He had been nicknamed, “Evil Elmo” for harassing business owners and screaming at people who didn’t pay him after they took a photo of his costume. Soon, he was arrested and officially banned from San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embarcadero piers. Karen Catalona, a San Francisco deputy district attorney stated, “I think when people hear … ‘the guy in the Elmo suit[,]’ it sounds like a joke. But when you actually look at how he’s making people feel and you look at his history, it’s disturbing. It’s not funny.”

Sandler has also caused trouble in New York, Los Angeles. In 2012, at New York City, Sandler was shouting anti-Semitic and xenophobic comments while being dressed up in an Elmo suit. According to the New York Police Department (NYPD) Sandler was arrested in September of that year and charged for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. 

Jeana Franco, a detective from the Los Angeles Police Department informed the Los Angeles Times, “…In the last six months, we’ve had quite a few problems with him. This guy is like a national nuisance.” The L.A. Police started to receive reports from local residents and businesses who complained about Sandler. The police cannot arrest Sandler since he hasn’t committed a crime. 

An article from the Los Angeles Times talks about a local manager Frankie Tirado from a business on Hillhurst Avenue. He stated that Sandler had screamed at customers, said anti-Semitic comments, threatened him, and spit in his face. Another article from the Los Angeles Times states that Tirado said, “I would like to see [Sandler] get some kind of help …no one wants to hear the Cookie Monster say he’s going to kill their family.”

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