Elmo, Cookie Monster and other furry neighbors from Sesame Street are headed overseas once again on a USO tour along with their friend Katie, the military kid.
The two-month tour will kick off Sept. 11 at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, before visiting Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Spain.
The costumed characters will perform more than 30 shows at 19 military bases, entertaining parents and their young children while delivering messages about dealing with the unique challenges of military life.
“A lot of kids come in the show excited to see Elmo or Cookie Monster ... but when they leave they tell me that Katie is their favorite person because she’s just like them,” said USO tour manager Nicole McClendon, in a video produced last year.
Each installation will decide which 30-minute show is performed on their base, with some installations choosing both “Katie’s Family Transitions to Civilian Life,” and “Katie is Moving to a New Base.” Sesame Workshop debuted the character of Katie in 2011 with “Katie is Moving to a New Base.” The civilian-transition show debuted in 2016.
The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families has toured the world since July 2008, making it the longest-running traveling tour in the USO’s 76-year history. The characters have performed more than 1,100 shows on 150 military bases in 33 states and 11 countries. They’ve distributed more than 2.8 million outreach materials and entertained nearly 600,000 service members and military families.
The tours grew out of Sesame Workshop’s Sesame Street for Military Families initiative, providing a variety of videos and other resources for military families to help their children navigate the challenges they face.
“Sesame Workshop is proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the USO, employing our early childhood expertise and beloved Sesame Street characters to support and celebrate military kids and families as they learn, heal and grow,” said Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of U.S. social impact, in an announcement of this year’s tour.
Click here for more information about the tour.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.