Somewhere in my house, buried deep in a bin, is a picture I thought of immediately when I read that Caroll Spinney was hanging up his Big Bird beak and retiring from Sesame Street.
The picture I pretty much tore the house apart looking for was of my then three-year old son Vinnie dressed as Big Bird. He wore orange leggings, a yellow sweat shirt and a big yellow baseball hat with pink-lidded blue eyes pasted on.
I couldn’t find that picture so you’ll have to trust me on this, but he was adorable, just like the giant muppet he portrayed.
I’ve been a Sesame Street fan my whole life. In fact, just the other day my sister Jenny and I sang a medley of songs from the 1971 Official Sesame Street Book 2 album.
“When I’m walking down the street
and someone stomps upon my feet
that makes me mad. Very angry! Very Very angry!”
“Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do!
Your sister and brother and your dad and mother too.
Big people. Small people. Matter of fact all people.
Everyone makes mistakes so why can’t you.”
Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Bert, Ernie and Mr. Snuffleupagus have been educating, entertaining, consoling and gently reprimanding kids since 1969.
Though I didn’t see it when it originally aired, Mr. Rogers visited Big Bird in episode #1575 and we all learned how to be a friend, and how to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s pretend.
Aziz Ansari and Grover got a little ridiculous teaching the word of the day in 2014, and in 2002 United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan taught the neighborhood muppet monsters how to resolve their differences.
All those lessons resonate even more poignantly today. Sesame Street has managed to stay both sweet and relevant for 49 years.
Best wishes to Spinney, who has voiced both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the first season and God Bless Sesame Street for all those sunny days, sweeping the clouds away.
P.S. Sesame Street has a YouTube Channel, so you can catch up on all the sweetness you’ve been missing all these years.