By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 12, 2012 – Military families across the nation soon will be invited to take a stroll down Sesame Street.
Elmo and Katie, a new character from a military family, bend down to greet children from military families. During a traveling show called "Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families," Elmo and friends help Katie open up about her fears and excitement about moving to a new location. USO photo by Fred Greaves
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling tour exclusively for military families, will kick off April 7 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and will visit more than 70 installations over the next eight months. The show features Sesame Street favorites Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster and Rosita, as well as a new addition, Elmo’s friend, Katie, a character from a military family dealing with a military move.
During the musical 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.
"Our goal is to reach as many military children and their families as we can with Elmo and Katie’s messages of hope and resilience," H. Melvin Ming, Sesame Workshop president and CEO, said in a news release. "And as we begin our sixth phase of this tour, we are proud to see the growing number of troops and their families reached by this effort."
Created exclusively for this tour, Katie first was introduced to military families in April by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, at a Joining Forces rally in Columbus, Ohio. Joining Forces is the White House’s initiative to rally the nation’s support for troops, veterans and their families.
"The USO is very excited to partner again with Sesame Workshop as we return the tour to the U.S. with a fresh new look, theme and character," Sloan Gibson, USO president and CEO, said in the release. "Our nation’s military community is our top priority, especially our youngest heroes."
Before the show rolls onto installations across the country, officials are inviting people to help in naming the new tour bus. People can submit their ideas on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SesameStreetForMilitaryFamilies. Later in the month, families can visit Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/theUSO 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, according to the news release. 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, the release said.