Story and photo by Andrea Sutherland
Hundreds of children packed McMahon Auditorium Monday to see Elmo, Grover, Rosita and Cookie Monster perform Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families.
“My kids are big Elmo fans,” said Spc. Andre Richardson, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Richardson brought his three children, Cameran, 7, and twin 1-year-olds, Carson and Carter.
“I like Elmo and making my brothers laugh,” Cameran said.
Sadie Sentieri, 4, said she also liked Elmo because he is red, big and fluffy.
Shanita Polite brought her children to the show because she grew up watching Sesame Street.
“It was a part of my childhood,” she said. “I wanted to share it with my kids.”
In addition to the classic characters, the show also featured Katie, a military child who struggles with the prospect of moving away from her friends.
“The reality is one-third of military children will move this year,” said Lonnie Cooper, tour manager for the USO. “It can be scary and daunting. We got together with Sesame Street to put on a show that provides practical tips to help children get through the difficult time.”
Throughout the show, the Sesame Street gang attempts to cheer up Katie, reassuring her they will keep in touch through letters. They also tell Katie she will make new friends.
“Sesame Street knows kids and we know military Families,” Cooper said. “It’s a natural partnership. It’s a perfect fit.”
Cooper said the USO partnered with Sesame Street in 2008 and has traveled the world, performing for close to 300,000 military Family members.
The show was much appreciated. Children danced in the aisles and rushed to give their favorite characters hugs and high-fives.
“It’s a great show for Families,” said Gigi Holman, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “The message in the show is great and the kids love it.”