Story and photos by Holly DeCarlo-White
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
It’s not every day that Elmo, Cookie Monster and their friends visit the Stuttgart military community.
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart hosted the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families with two shows created specifically for military children June 26 at the Patch Fitness Center.
Families with young children gathered to watch Sesame Street characters perform in “Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families: Moving Day.” Strollers filled the Patch Fitness Center parking lot, and the gymnasium was full of spinning Elmo toys as children waited for the real one to appear.
Sesame Street and the USO know that when one family member serves, the whole family serves. The character Katie was added to the cast to model real-life experiences of today’s military children. Families are taken on a journey with Katie and all of her Sesame Street friends in hopes of helping them understand and relate to changes that occur regularly in military life. The show originally began as a workshop called Elmo’s Dad is Deployed, it has evolved into a full live traveling performance.
“It is important for the kids to see a military kid just like them.” said Nicole McClendon, USO Tour Manager. “We bring the show to families on base to let them know we are here for them. The show is for them and about them.”
“Katie is Moving to a New Base,” deals with a military child who is sad because she must move to a new location. Her friends help her see the upsides to relocating to a new base. “Katie’s Family Transitions to Civilian Life,” deals with a military child who is transitioning to civilian life at Sesame Street after living on military bases. Her friends help her realize that she will always be a part of the military community by staying in contact with friends, making new friends in new places, and more. Characters Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, Rosita, and Honker were all there to help Katie and get the crowd singing and dancing.
“It was awesome!” exclaimed LeeAnn Bayer, mom of 3, after watching the show. “Seeing the patriotism and kindness catches my heart. It hits me whenever they are singing about being blue. We hope the kids understand the message.”
The Sesame Street Experience is free and was open to the entire Stuttgart community and their guests. In addition to the performance, there were giveaways for attendees including red, white and blue USO bandanas, magnets, Elmo whirly lights and fun-themed educational materials for kids and parents.
For tips and guidance, visit Sesame Street’s Military Families Near and Far website at www.familiesnearandfar.org.
To view the photo album click here.