By Derek Gean (Fort Leonard Wood)June 20, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Several Sesame Street characters made a stop at Fort Leonard Wood with the mission of encouraging military children June 13.
The USO Sesame Street Experience for Military Families provided two shows for Families at Abrams Theater. The free musical, a collaborative effort by the USO and Sesame Street Workshop, was designed to help military children, ages 1-6, deal with the rigors of military moves.
"This is a live-action show that is a resource for parents and Families to deal with some of the harder parts of military life," said Lonnie Cooper, USO tour manager.
"One in three military Families is going to move by Sept. 30, all the way across the military -- that's all branches, and that is a huge burden, especially upon military kids. It's a hard thing and it can be very scary," he said.
Warren Britton, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Special Events Team member, said the show was a big success for Fort Leonard Wood Families.
"I think it turned out real well. We had 749 people at the 3 p.m. show and 794 at the 6:30 p.m. show," he said.
The show featured Katie, a new Sesame Street character that learns she and her Family are moving to a new installation. Katie, along with support of her Sesame Street friends, including Elmo, learns that moving is not always a bad thing.
Created for this tour, Katie was first introduced to military Families in April 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at a Joining Forces rally in Columbus, Ohio.
Cooper said a move could be difficult for military children.
"It is also a challenge that they can overcome and they can thrive through. We are here to entertain, do a little education and have a little fun with the Families," Cooper said.
Carmen Padilla attended the afternoon performance with her 1-year-old and 5-year-old.
"They are Sesame Street fans and they are excited because they just couldn't wait to see Elmo," Padilla said.
"They can relate to Elmo because he is a little kid. They like watching "Elmo's World." This is very good for military Families."