Bennett celebrated his first birthday last week while “Sesame Street” is celebrating 50 years this week. A lot has changed on the children’s TV show, but it’s still very much the program I grew up watching in the early 1980s.
I have good memories of watching the TV show and being delighted by the antics of the characters. I can remember the pinball-style animation and rhythm used to count to 12. My brain can’t always remember certain important dates but it does know all the lyrics to “I’ve Got a New Way to Walk.”
I remember watching children getting to hug the residents of Sesame Street and wishing that I too could give Grover a big hug. There’s just something great about the fuzzy blue puppet that I’ve always enjoyed. And then there’s Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie and Oscar the Grouch who’ve all been likable, in my opinion.
Countless celebrities continue to visit “Sesame Street” whether to help teach children about letters, numbers, concepts or just to sing along with the characters. I can’t recall any of the guest stars from when I watched as a child, except for Kermit the Frog, but I have a good grasp on some of the people who have showed up on the show in the past few years thanks to YouTube clips.
“Sesame Street” has continued to adapt to the world children experience. It introduced Julia, a muppet with autism, a couple years ago, and recently, Karli – whose mom has an addiction — was added to the show. There’s even a smart phone character named Smarty who helps Elmo learn.
I was pretty bummed out when it was announced “Sesame Street” would be aired on HBO and the episodes would later run on PBS. One of the reasons the show was great was how it was accessible to everyone who had a TV set – you didn’t need to pay extra money to watch the program. But, of course, funding to public television has always faced challenges and in order to continue producing a quality show, “Sesame Street” needed to follow the money. It’s still strange for me to know the children’s program is on the same network that brought us “The Sopranos,” “True Blood” and “Game of Thrones.”
Thankfully, PBS still runs new episodes after they have aired on HBO so the educational TV show continues to be more accessible.
I’d like to think the reason “Sesame Street” has endured for so long is because the lessons they teach are still important – not just letters and numbers, but being kind to others, sharing, and using your imagination.
Here’s to many more years of children getting to experience the wonder of an imaginary street filled with colorful residents.