By Tech. Sgt. Jared Marquis
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Like many military families this time of year, it is time for Katie and her family to PCS and she isn’t happy about it. When they move, she will have to start at a new school, find new friends and adjust to a new base. These are the challenges military children face every time they move, even when they happen to be a Muppet on Sesame Street.
Katie, Elmo and the rest of their Sesame Street pals performed for the Team Pete family June 27 and 28 here as part of the Sesame Street USO experience for military families. Through song and dance, the Sesame Street characters addressed the challenges of a military move from Katie’s perspective.
This is the second version of the show, which has been running since 2008, said Nicole McClendon, USO entertainment tour producer. The first version addressed the challenges associated with a deployed parent. The current version has been running since 2011 and focuses on Katie, a military child, and a Muppet who just found out her family is moving to a new base.
“That is something that all military families go through,” said McClendon. “Sometimes our littlest family members will move nine to 14 times before high school,” she said.
According to the USO website, following three consecutive years of touring the globe and uplifting military families, the USO and Sesame Workshop decided to build upon the tour’s success by introducing a new character. Determined to create someone military children could relate to, they decided to introduce Katie, a Sesame Street character who was relocating to a new location with her family and could identify with the sadness accompanied with leaving behind old friends, the anxiety of making new friends and the excitement of starting over. But, most importantly, a friendly face who would serve as a source of inspiration, hope and joy.
Throughout the show, Katie shares her concerns about leaving her Sesame Street friends and starting over. Elmo, Cookie Monster and the rest of the Sesame Street cast show her that moving is not all bad. They promise to keep in touch and tell her that even though she won’t be there, they are still friends. Cookie Monster points out that she can send him new kinds of cookies. By the end of the show, Katie feels much better about moving.
Katie’s goal through the show is to share that message with other military children.
“I want them to know that just because you have to move doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends. There are lots of ways to stay in touch and it is exciting to make new friends, too! They should also know that there are lots of military kids and families going through the same things. Just like me!” said Katie.
The crew performed three shows at Peterson. This was the 31st stop out of 69 bases in 32 states, said McClendon. By the end of the tour on Oct. 26, they plan to have performed more than 200 shows. In order to perform that many shows at that many locations, the USO depends on volunteers at each stop. More than 20 people around Team Pete volunteered to help ensure the more than 900 attendees for the three shows enjoyed the experience.
Along with the enjoyment of the experience, the Muppet’s from Sesame Street hope the children learn something from the experience.
“Elmo is so happy singing and dancing for all the military children and their families with all of Elmo’s friends from Sesame Street! Elmo hopes that they will have fun and learn about the importance of friendship,” said Elmo.
So while Katie and her family will soon move, she will always be friends with Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Rosita and the rest of Sesame Street.