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Elmo, Cookie Monster and a whole host of other furry friends of the famed Sesame Street cast ignited a sea of smiles spreading pure happiness when the Sesame Street USO Experience for military families tour came to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) May 12.

JBAB Commander Navy Capt. Frank Mays welcomed the event and kicked off the live performance with remarks honoring the families of the brave men and women serving in the U.S. military.

“I would like to thank the USO for bringing this event to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. This event is good for military families,” Mays said to a bubbling gymnasium teeming with excited preschoolers, elementary students and devoted parents.

“Now I am going to turn it over to the fun people,” he said sending the youthful crowd into an uproar of cheers.

Scores of military moms, dads and kids flocked to the gymnasium at the JBAB Youth Center to see the mid-morning performance featuring the popular muppets singing, dancing, sliding and jumping to catchy show tunes.

Sesame Street Super Star Elmo of “Elmo’s World” wowed the crowd of mostly little ones with a dazzling song-ending split to the amazement of all of the kids, parents and USO volunteers.

One military family from Virginia applauded the USO for bringing the event to JBAB.

“I think it is great. It helps families that can’t make it to Sesame Place [a theme park in Pennsylvania] or to Sesame Street Live. It brings the show to them,” said a Navy petty officer.

The petty officer, his wife and their son came to see their favorite Sesame Street character.

“This guy loves Elmo,” the petty officer said holding his son.

Those who came out to the show were greeted by six U.S. Navy service members moonlighting as USO volunteers. The Sailors greeted the families and handed out freebies including a red light-up spinning toy decorated with mini-muppets that go around and around.

The 30-minute performance included Katie, a character representing a military child specifically created for the tour, according to USO tour manager Nicole McClendon.

“Sesame Street and the USO decided to do a live show in 2008 that focused on military deployments and in 2011, Katie joined Sesame Street to focus on the military child. This really resonates with military families,” she said.

Katie’s situation in the show speaks directly to military families when her Sesame Street friends help her open up about her fears and excitement in moving to a new place and making new friends.

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families tour, now in its sixth year, is the USO’s longest running, traveling tour based on the Sesame Street’s Military Families Initiative.

It is expected to perform hundreds of shows at military bases in several states by the fall of this year.

For more information visit http://www.uso.org/sesame/.