The popular TV children’s show, “Sesame Street,” with the help of the United Services Organization or USO, brought their star-studded line up to Edwards to show their appreciation for military children and their families July 28 at the Oasis Community Center.
“This stop is part of our phase act tour and it’s stop number 40 out of 69 locations. We’re going to 69 bases in 32 states,” said Nicole McClendon, USO Tour manager for Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families. “Our tour has been ongoing since 2008, and since 2011 we’ve had a very special friend named Katie that comes and plays with us, but we’re here at Edwards because we heard there were some military families and we wanted to hand-deliver a live singing and dancing thank you card to them.”
Of the characters who were part of the show, children were greeted by Elmo, Grover, Rosita, Honker and Cookie Monster, to include a special character named Katie, a six-year-old girl who learns that her dad, who is in the military, has been transferred to another base. Since Katie and her parents will have to move, the story behind the show places a sad Katie in the middle of her Sesame friends who help her see that they will remain friends despite the distance and that change is not necessarily a bad thing and that she will make new friends.
“What’s great is that “Sesame Street” knows kids and the USO knows the military. By putting those two together, you get a show that’s specifically meant for our military families and this particular show focuses on moving, because that’s something that our youngest military members do quite a bit, which they can do sometimes on an average of nine to 14 times even before they are in high school and that can be tough,” said McClendon. “Katie’s here especially because it’s something she is going through. She’s six years old and it’s her third or fourth time moving already and she’s understandably nervous about it, but fortunately she has some great friends like Elmo, Grover, Rosita, Honker and Cookie Monster who help her figure out ways to stay in touch with her old friends and how to make new friends at her new base. It’s definitely something any military child can relate to. I think it’s really exciting that they come to see Elmo but they end up seeing somebody just like them on stage.
For all the children in attendance, they were given USO bandanas and spinning Elmo toys, to include pamphlets and mementos of the event.
“It was great and a lot of fun. My kids loved it because they got to dance and have a good time. I think it’s very important mainly because you have these military families that are sometimes affected by each move. I think when kids see a big funny character up on stage that’s a friendly character, kids can relate to the character, so the idea of moving becomes a lot easier,” said Jeanette Bradford, military spouse.
“Props to the USO and ‘Sesame Street.’ We see them mainly when we’re at the airports, but you don’t really realize how much they do. It’s really cool that they are doing these sorts of things for our military families,” added Bradford.
The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families was created in 2008 to help servicemembers and their families ?deal with the unique challenges they face, from deployments and homecomings to frequent relocations. The tour was first introduced to military families in April 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at a Joining Forces rally in Columbus, Ohio.
For more information about upcoming tours and locations, visit www.uso.org/sesame.