From left: Elmo, Grover, Rosita, Zoe and Cookie Monster perform at Milam Gym on main post Saturday. Photo by Natalie M. Hinojos, Special to The Monitor.
Sesame Street USO tour visits Fort Bliss
reaches out to military families
Natalie M. Hinojos
Special to The Monitor
Children jumped for joy when Elmo and his friends came to Fort Bliss to perform for military families Saturday.
Elmo and his friends danced, sang and sent a message about the challenges military families face and what to do in those situations. Performers sang classics like “Sunny Day,” “How to get to Sesame Street,” “Dance to the Music,” by Sly and the Family Stone, and “C is for Cookie.”
“It was interactive. It got my kids to dance and sing,” said Ricky Lopez, husband of reporter Valerie Lopez. “We enjoyed it.”
Elmo come out to give the children hugs at the end of the show Saturday. Photo by Natalie M. Hinojos, Special to The Monitor.
The USO and Sesame Street got together in 2008 to expand Sesame Street’s Talk, Listen, Connect Project for military families. They have traveled around the world, visiting a variety of military installations and reaching out to families. They are headed next to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., and will then perform at Fort Hood, Texas.
During their appearance here, performers handed out Elmo toys, bumper stickers, DVDs and magnets. The show lasted 30 minutes but gave the children a chance to meet their favorite Sesame Street characters such as Rosita, Zoe, Grover, Cookie Monster and Elmo.
“It was pretty good,” said Nina H. Cook, wife of Staff Sgt. Jerry Cook. “My son Noah was dancing around. I thought it was great they brought something for the kids to do here.”
“I liked it a lot,” said Diego, age 5, Cook’s nephew. When asked who his favorite character was, he simply shouted, “Elmo!”
Aliya, 4, Diego, 5, and Noah, 16 months, play with their free Elmo toys provided by the USO and Sesame Street. Photo by Natalie M. Hinojos, Special to The Monitor.
During the performance, Elmo and his friends talked about missing their moms and dads while they deploy, and how writing letters to family members makes them happy, along with sharing stories and making music with his friends.
“We try to give them concrete things they can do during the hard times,” said Lonnie Cooper, USO tour manager. “Not all kids listen to all parents, so [parents] are able to use this experience and say, ‘Hey, do you remember what Elmo said, or, ‘What did he do when his mommy or daddy was gone?’ This helps that conversation, which is not easy for them to have. This is our way to help them out.”