'Sesame Street Live' brings furry friends to Schofield
December 8, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - One of the most adorable children's characters and his furry monster friends will be making a stopover in the islands this holiday season, hoping to add a little magic to the lives of military families.
Elmo and friends have scheduled six, 30-minute shows at three locations Oahu as part of the free traveling tour, "The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families." One of the shows, which will take place, here, at Martinez Physical Fitness Center, Dec. 12, is expected to draw "hundreds, if not a thousand people," according to Kelly Andrews, recreation specialist, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR).
"Sesame Street has always been very supportive of military families, and there's this preset expectation among military families that they'll like whatever Sesame Street has to say," Andrews explained. "I do think it's going to be a fantastic opportunity for kids, particularly those whose moms or dads might be deployed and away for the holidays, to have a chance to get out of the house and enjoy some fun time with the family."
Games will be held prior to and during the shows, she added, including several Christmas-themed activities. In addition, Eddie the Eagle, the official FMWR mascot, will be making an appearance as Santa and taking photos with keiki.
The stars of the show, however, will undoubtedly be many of the same characters that have graced the popular children's television program during its 40-year history, including Elmo, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Count von Count and Oscar the Grouch.
"For some, it'll be their first time to meet their favorite characters in person," Andrews said, adding that the show at Schofield Barracks is being made possible through a generous donation from the Army Recycling Center. "We hope that puts a smile on the children's faces."
The tour is part of Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen, Connect" initiative, which was launched in 2006 as a military outreach program. This multimedia initiative is tailor-made for young children ages 2 through 5, who are experiencing the effects of deployment and/or combat-related injuries to their parents.
"Sesame Workshop is proud of its ongoing commitment to serving the needs of military families, and we are thrilled to partner with our good friends at the USO to bring Elmo and all of his friends to military families overseas," said Gary Knell, CEO and president of Sesame Workshop, in a press release. "The U.S. tour last fall was a huge success and further underscored the need for resources to help military families cope with the challenges of deployment.
"This is our humble way of saying thank you to all the moms and dads in our armed forces for their commitment to all of us," Knell added.
In 2008, the tour made stops at 40 military installations in 23 states and wound up performing 106 shows for 76,000 service members and their families.
This year's tour has already traveled to 19 of 20 U.S. military installations, including those in the United Kingdom and Europe. The tour is expected to wrap up in Hawaii.