Sesame Street 40th Anniversary, 123 Sesame Street, New York
November 9, 2009
Today confirmed what I knew all along: Oscar The Grouch and Grover are bigger than Brad Pitt. When I arrived at Dante Park, a triangular space on W 64th and Columbus across from Lincoln Center, I was blown away by the number of TV cameras and big swingin' photog lenses. I checked in, discovered the risers full of shooters from the New York Post, Patrick McMullen, etc, and was then placed off to the side of the ceremonial area. I think I had the best spot on the ground. Well, until men with their big, ahem, lenses kept stepping in front of me. But seriously, I am not going to complain because... Sunny Day , Sweepin' the clouds away, On my way to where the air is sweet....
If you haven't figured it out, while you all were dialing into conference calls, sweating over that RFP, and pitching to some venture capitalists, I spent my morning with some of the original cast of "Sesame Street," celebrating the show's 40th anniversary by naming 64th and Columbus "123 Sesame Street."
Just as it sounds, the morning was surreal. My subway ride featured the best buskers I've heard yet, belting out "This Magic Moment" by the Drifters. Their perfect harmony temporarily wrapped my DayQuil-soaked brain in a warm blanket and soothed my throat that was still burning from the porcupine party that took place there the night before. Any stupid creeping cold symptoms I had were washed away when "Sesame Street"'s Bob McGrath (Bob!) found his seat directly in front of me.
I had to collect myself a bit. You know when you're so overwhelmed with nostalgia and happiness, your mouth-sides do a little quiver dance -- almost the harbinger of tears, but more like the inability to stifle true emotions. I LOVED "Sesame Street" as a kid. I have a feeling that those puppets, the neighborhood, the neighbors hanging out the window, all of that may have planted the "move to NYC" seed early on. It definitely did wonders for my obsession with stuffed animals that still lives on. I have memories of my mom unable to decide if I was more Oscar the Grouch or Ernie from Bert and Ernie. I admit, childhood photos of my sister and I are like Bert and Ernie's doppelgangers -- unibrow and all.
Drifting back and forth across Columbus area were scads of "Sesame Street" Workshoppers and fans, oblivious to the three lanes of traffic. There were a few irksome moments when I saw one organizer trying to corral the herds by saying "Not smart! This is Columbus Avenue!" No one wants to be called "not smart" when they're celebrating "Sesame Street"!
After a quick intro by NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta, followed by President & CEO, Sesame Workshop, Gary E. Knell, and of course "Sesame Street" creator, Joan Ganz Cooney, the big arrival of that fluffy, gangly, slightly rotund, friendly fowl, Big Bird, sent photogs into a flash frenzy. Grover was excitable as always, flinging his arms and face around with each round of applause. Oscar The Grouch caused a ruckus while assembling for the group photo, giving bunny ears to Cookie Monster, who probably didn't notice because he was dreaming of chocolate chips. There were a bunch of other rag tag puppets from later episodes of "Sesame Street" like Abby Cadabby, and Zoe. I didn't get a chance to ask them who they were wearing.
Oh gosh, and of course Elmo was there, too. But sorry, Elmo, my childhood favorites are blue and green, loud and weird.
I want every Monday of every week to start like this. Happy 40th anniversary, "Sesame Street"! Thank you for occupying a warm spot in my childhood brain, giving me great cultural references in strange party situations (ask me for my near/far impression), and for being such a NYC mainstay that showcases this ever-changing city in a vibrant and positive light.
Note to event planners: invite Muppets and puppets.
Think you can handle all the fuzz and googly eyes? The pictures are up on Flickr!
Send invitations to firstname.lastname@example.org!