By Iuliana Petre
Killeen Daily Herald
Come one, come all to a performance by Sesame Street characters at a post near you.
The 25-minute, mini-show features the characters of Rosita, Zoey, Cookie Monster, Grover and Elmo and is directed at children who have experienced a parents' departure as a result of a deployment.
The first performance at Fort Hood was Wednesday afternoon at the Abrams Physical Fitness Center, followed by a second performance at 7 p.m.
Two more performances are scheduled for today, one at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Performances are free of charge for all military families and are not open to the general public.
The show, created by a partnership team from the Sesame Street Workshop and the United Services Organization, is putting on the same performance at 43 military installations across the United States in order to teach kids the importance of expressing all kinds of emotions, especially sadness caused by deploying parents.
"We're using the characters to communicate with kids," said Peter Van Roden, vice president of Themed Entertainment.
Van Roden, who handles all of the shows that involve "characters hitting the road," said the Sesame Street performance has been hugely successful with the Defense Department.
The show's creators had no idea how many people would attend the event or if it would even gain public interest.
It turned out that so many people were drawn to the performance and the message, that shows had to be added to the tour because performances were growing over capacity.
"That's a really good problem to have," Van Roden said.
The live performance is the second phase in the Talk, Listen, Connect outreach program produced to help families get the dialogue going with their children about deployments.
In addition to the performance, parents can also choose from a multitude of written materials and resources from sponsors like Beaches, Sea World Adventure Park, Busch Gardens, Tri-West Healthcare Alliance and many more.
The materials are on display and available for parents during and after the show.
We're providing ongoing education about raising the spirits of kids and using the show as a way to get the outreach materials to the community," Van Roden said.
The first phase in the Talk, Listen, Connect program was a DVD released by Sesame Street and the USO by the same name – "Talk, Listen, Connect."
The DVD kit includes a two-disc set, a magazine for parents and caregivers and an activity poster for children.
"We want military families to know that we love them and support them," said Van Roden, adding that the show, which started six weeks ago, is on its 16th stop here at Fort Hood.
The show will continue on for 11 more weeks, with multiple performances at each installation.
Contact Iuliana Petre at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7469.