A Wonderful Street to Be On

The street I am referring to is Sesame Street and a children’s program which first aired on November 10, 1969. For me, it began a bit late because I was already 12 but at times I watched anyway and fell in love with all the fantastic characters. My favorite has always been the Cookie Monster followed by the Count. I remember someone telling me that their son always expected to find Oscar the Grouch in every garbage bin they passed. Among all the other favorites were Elmo, Big Bird, Bert, Grover, and Ernie.

The show was created for young children so that they would have fun learning the alphabet and how to count. It helped to learn how to socialize and make friends. I wonder if this show would have had such a great following and success if it had come out during the computer age. As it turned out it became the most widely viewed program for children in the world and was aired in over 120 countries. Just for fun I sometimes view an episode on YouTube. It just makes me feel like a kid again.

The idea for this show came to Joan Ganz Cooney who was a documentary producer for public TV. She decided to target preschoolers and to help underprivileged 3 to 5-year-olds get ready for kindergarten. Sesame Street was supposed to be in a fictional New York City neighborhood and had ethnically diverse characters and gave out positive social messages.  Surprising as it might be ideas were taken from the 1960s variety comedy show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” to create short, funny segments that featured puppets, animation, and live actors.

The puppets were the ever loveable Muppets. Cooney hired popular puppeteer Jim Henson to create the characters. The subjects on the show evolved along with the times. A South African version of this show “Takalani Sesame” includes a 5-year old Muppet character named Kami, who is HIV positive in order to help children understand and cope with the stigma of this disease that has reached epidemic proportions.

 Then in 2006 along came another Muppet character named Abby Cadabby who was meant to encourage diversity and provide a strong role model for girls. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mother and part-time with her father.

Sesame Street keeps having visitors even in this modern age of technology and since it began more than 74 million Americans have watched the show and today an estimated 8 million people watch the show each week in the U.S. If you wanted to see the real Sesame Street, the place where the show is filmed today then you would have to go to Kaufman Astoria Studios, in the Astoria section of the borough of Queens in NYC.


What do you think?

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