Michelle Obama, Jill Biden meet Elmo
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden greet Sesame Street Muppets Telly and Grover while Elmo waits for his hug during a "Joining Forces" community event in Columbus, Ohio, April 14, 2011. The event also kicked off the Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling tour exclusively for military families.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 15, 2011 -- Calling out over thousands of screaming fans, Elmo introduced a few new friends to Sesame Street here, yesterday.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, stepped onto the auditorium stage and into the arms of Elmo and friends as a crowd of local military and community families stood and cheered.

Obama and Biden hosted a concert-style event here, yesterday, to thank military families as well as to encourage community members to support and honor them as part of their "Joining Forces" military family support initiative. The event also helped to kick off the fifth installment of the Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling tour exclusively for military families.

Sloan Gibson, USO president, who also stopped by the event, thanked the military children in the audience for their contributions to the family, especially during deployments.

"It's a big job, it's a hard job sometimes, and it's a very important job," he said. "Thank you for what you do for your moms and your dads."

"When a Soldier is deployed, the entire family is deployed," added Gary E. Knell, Sesame Workshop CEO and president. "We care about you [and] what it's like to be a kid in the military."

The Sesame Street Muppets offered the audience a preview of the traveling show, which features a new theme and a new character named Katie, a military child who is about to move. During the musical show, Katie opens up to her Muppet friends about her fears, and excitement, over her upcoming move. With the help of a few songs, Elmo and other Sesame pals reassure her that she'll make new friends while still remaining close with old ones.

The show also was a big hit with the crowd. But while the older children enjoyed a special performance by singer Nick Jonas, the younger children had a clear favorite: Elmo.

The show will kick off its around-the-world tour with a stop in Alaska later this month, and will continue with stops in Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain.

The show made its debut in July 2008, to help families cope with military-related challenges, including deployments and homecomings, a USO news release said, and is part of Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen, Connect" initiative for military families.

Since the tour's inception four years ago, The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families has logged more than 61,200 miles to 90 bases in 33 different states and nine countries, a USO news release said. The tour also has performed 315 shows for more than 192,600 servicemembers and their families.

For up-to-date tour information, people can visit the USO website at http://www.uso.org.

Page last updated Mon April 18th, 2011 at 06:07