Those who grew up watching the Canadian children’s series 'The Polka Dot Door' during its original run from 1971 until 1993 might notice a passing resemblance between the show’s big, green mascot and this strange creature that’s been showing up at events in Toronto recently.
This is Tokaroo, a character that looks as though it could be Polkaroo’s cool, older brother who smokes pot and goes to protests. That’s no coincidence either, since the man behind this 'parody' mask is the same one who embodied the beloved children’s character for over 22 years—performer Mark Scott.
"Tokaroo is a character who will talk about responsible drug use," Scott told CBC. "Now that Canada has legalized cannabis for recreational use, there can be more discussion about responsible altered states."
Scott’s Tokaroo costume is not the only variation on the 'Roo' theme. In fact, he’s created a whole family of Roos, including Rainbowroo (who promotes LGBTQ rights), Signaroo (who is deaf and uses sign language) and Readyroo (who has special needs).
While it can be argued that this litany of new characters continues the tradition of teaching and instilling positive values that 'The Polka Dot Door' used to promote while it was still on the air, the show’s broadcaster, TVO, doesn’t quite see it that way.
"While we can understand the nostalgia, TVO does not endorse this parody of Polkaroo, or that fact that it is being associated with an activity that is neither legal for children nor recommended for use by children," TVO said in a statement.
Scott, displaying an iron will, maintains that the similarities between the two characters are "purely coincidental," and that he will not give in to cease-and-desist notices from the broadcaster.