Sunny day – Sweepin’ the clouds away,
On my way to where the air is sweet.
Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.
The letter of the day is “S”…. for Sesame Street, which celebrates its 40th birthday today. Founded to help educate American pre-schoolers, especially in the inner cities, Sesame Street has won over a hundred Emmys and has been broadcast in roughly 150 countries. The show is the most-researched show in television history. The show still attracts big name guest-stars, and to celebrate this milestone, Michelle Obama who is the guest star, is quoted as saying “I never thought I’d be on Sesame Street with Elmo and Big Bird… It’s probably the best thing I’ve done at the White House.”
Growing up in the 1970s, Sesame Street was a window for us on an American way of life, where children ate cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with large glasses of milk, and the sun shone all day. Living in a predominately mono-cultural Ireland, the show taught us a new multiculturalism: the muppets and adults are all different colours, different backgrounds, and all live together in the same neighbourhood. Even that word neighbourhood was new and exciting. I remember a song “who are the people in your neighbourhood…” which included “the mail-man”, the “garbage man”… foreign sounding, and thus, exotic names for us. We learned our alphabet, and we even learned to count in Spanish too.
In this fast paced internet age, it is reassuring it know that somewhere “where the air is sweet” Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie are still teaching lessons on patience, kindness and tolerance to new generations of children.