Sesame Street comes to Area I
At Camp Casey Oct. 21, the cast of Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families performs for an audience of children and adults at the Hanson Fitness Center. The traveling show's musical story line is geared to military children and the experie... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP CASEY -- Sesame Street and United Service Organizations entertained hundreds of Warrior Country children and adults at Hanson Fitness Center Oct. 21, as a cast of beloved Sesame Street characters performed a musical skit geared to military children and the sacrifices they endure.

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families -- the USO's longest running traveling show -- gave two performances for Area I audiences, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Since its debut in 2008 the show has entertained about 400,000 military children and their families, with more than 430 shows on 131 military bases in 32 states and 11 countries, among them Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan and Korea.

As the audience at Camp Casey discovered, along with the ever-popular Sesame Street regulars -- Cookie Monster, Elmo, Grover, Rosita and Honker, Sesame Street's traveling stage show features a special character -- Katie, age 6.

Katie is normally a happy, contented little girl with a bubbly personality. But when the audience sees her onstage she's sad and not her usual self because she's just learned that her father, who's in the military, has been assigned to another duty station. Katie and her family have to move.

Katie's been a military child long enough to know that moving means she has to leave her friends behind on Sesame Street while she goes to a strange, friendless new place.

Cookie Monster, Elmo, Grover, Rosita and Honker, all friends of Katie, sang and danced throughout the 45-minute show and helped Katie realize they can stay friends despite the distance, and that change is not necessarily a bad thing.

"Katie is a character that the military children can relate to," said Nicole McClendon, the show's USO tour manager. "We are here for them because they make sacrifices too."

The children were allowed to stand up and sing, dance and laugh with Katie and the rest of the Sesame Street characters.

As the children entered the gymnasium before the show started they were given an Elmo twirler toy that lights up as Elmo spins around. That brought smiles and laughter from children of all ages.

Audience members were also given a red, white and blue USO bandanna, which some of the kids and adults wore during the performance.

"Elmo is my favorite," said Sydney Kolbe, 5, daughter of 1st Lt. Christian Kolbe, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. "I liked the show and I had fun."

"It's hard for children to adjust to moving every few years," said Michele Kolbe. "But it does open up opportunities for them get to see different cultures."