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Family Matters Blog: Sesame Street, USO Launch Tour for Military Families

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2012 – Several years ago, I was invited to New York to preview some Sesame Street products for military families. Although busy, I couldn’t resist sneaking away for a quick stroll down the Sesame Street set.

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Elmo and friends sing with Katie, a new character on Sesame Street, during the kickoff of the fifth installment of the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families in Columbus, Ohio, April 14, 2011. Katie is a military child dealing with a military move. DOD photo by Elaine Sanchez

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
As I walked past Mr. Hooper’s store and peered into Oscar the Grouch’s trash-can home, the years drifted away until I once again was a child glued to my family’s antenna-laden 1970s TV set.

In a few weeks, military families around the nation will have a chance to take their own walk down memory lane -- and create some new memories for their children -- when Sesame Street comes to town.

The Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling show, is about to embark on its 2012 tour. The show, exclusively for military families, premieres April 7 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Families at more than 70 military installations across the nation will have the chance to see the show over the next eight months.

The 30-minute musical show features Sesame Street favorites Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster and Rosita, as well as a new addition, Elmo’s friend, Katie. Katie is a character from a military family dealing with a military move.

During the show, Katie opens up to her Muppet friends about her fears and excitement about the move. With the help of a few songs, Elmo and other pals reassure her that she’ll make new friends while still remaining close with old ones.

I first caught a glimpse of Katie at a Joining Forces event in Columbus, Ohio, last year, when First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, offered the military audience a sneak peek of the tour. The show was a big hit with the crowd. While the older children enjoyed a special performance by singer Nick Jonas, the younger children had a clear favorite: Elmo.

To see if this show is rolling onto an installation near you, visit the USO’s tour schedule site, but check back often, since officials will be adding new stops along the way.

In the meantime, officials would like your help in naming the new tour bus. You can submit ideas on the Sesame Street for Military Families Facebook page. Later in the month, families can visit the USO’s Facebook site to vote on the finalists. In early April, officials will announce the winning name and unveil the new tour bus.

The Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families debuted in July 2008 to help families deal with the challenges of deployment and homecomings. Since its inception, the tour has taken its message to more than 248,000 troops and military families, and performed 433 shows on 131 military bases in 33 states and 11 countries, a Sesame Street news release said.

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