Sesame Street Turns 50!


Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

November 10, 1969: it’s a notable day for America and the whole world. No one would know how the world would change just yet, but shortly afterward, it would be left a slightly better place than it had before. On that day, my dad was born. Oh, and the first episode of “Sesame Street” aired. I guess, that’s special, too.      

You think after 50 years they’d finally tell you how to get there. Yes, “Sesame Street” turns 50 this year. To me, the show doesn’t look a year over 20. It’s amazing enough that “Arthur” is around the same age as me and still has new episodes airing every year, but here comes one of PBS’s OG programs “Sesame Street” still on the airwaves and still dedicated to entertaining people of all ages.

Like most kids with a TV set, I grew up watching “Sesame Street.” Not just the show, I would also watch their VHS/DVD specials (wow, I feel old just writing that)—”Elmopalooza” being one of my favorites. I would listen to “Kids Favorite Songs” or “the Best of Sesame Street” in the family car all the time. And I always love my parents reading “the Monster at the End of this Book” and its sequel “Another Monster at the End of this Book.”      

When I was little, I used to carry around a stuffed Elmo toy. It wasn’t a Tickle-Me Elmo, and I dubbed him “Baby Elmo” (and in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t know why I named him that, either). It was just a toy that was about a third of my size, and I loved him. He’s lost to time now, but he always holds a special place in my heart.  

A lot has changed on the street since I was little. Most of the original adult cast had retired from the show or went on to other projects. New people puppeteer old favorites like Big Bird, Elmo, and Grover. 

They even have some new Muppets around. They have a fairy named Abby Cadabby. An African American named Chris is helping Alan out at Hooper’s Store. Not to mention, there’s Julia, the first Muppet on the Autism spectrum, and Karli, a Muppet who lives in foster care while her mother recovers from addiction. 

That’s not to say all the change they bring is bad. It’s just there are times where I think about how the street used to be, and that gets me feeling nostalgic.      

Being a late 90’s kid, I grew up with Alan, played by Japanese-American actor Alan Muraoka, running Hooper’s Store. Rosita and Zoe had been my neighbors. There was Hero Guy, Baby Bear’s drawing that comes to life from time to time. Baby Natasha and her parents would occasionally stop by. And there was always time to hear Oscar the Grouch tell Slimy, the first worm to land on the moon, a bedtime story about Trash Gordon. 

All those things bring back joyful memories of spending time at my Nana’s house or hanging out with my cousins. While those days are long gone, the memories remain. The best part: any child who watches “Sesame Street” has a chance to experience the same loving, inclusive, and educational place the show has always been known for. 

For older fans, some may remember Mr. Hooper, the original owner of Hooper’s Store. Some may remember Bob, his deaf girlfriend, Linda, and her dog Barkley. Maria and Luis; Gordon and Susan; Miles and Gabi: these are all human characters that have lived on Sesame Street that older people may recognize. 

On top of that, it’s amazing how quality their content still is after all these years. I remember watching ten minutes of one of the newer episodes with my younger cousins, and it had a moment where Ernie wants to make a movie and has Bert play along. To my delighted surprise, Ernie and Bert were just as funny as they were 10-15 years ago when I saw them for the first time.

The point being: after 50 years, there’s a Sesame Street children could call their own, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. The show can still keep children and adults entertained. Background Muppets and people may come and go, but the important messages of ‘sharing is caring,’ ‘be kind to everyone,’ ‘everyone is different and that’s okay’ will remain.

Well, that and there will still be Elmo merch to sell until the world ends. That’s always nice, right?