WASHINGTON — "Sesame Street" stars are inviting military children to come and play at bases all over the United States this summer.

On Thursday, officials from the Sesame Workshop and the USO announced plans for a 43-stop tour of military installations this summer, bringing singing and dancing Muppets live to children of deployed servicemembers.

"We like to think of ourselves as the preeminent provider of entertainment for our military," said Edward Powell, president of the USO. "So what better way to complete the panoply of our entertainers, when you’ve already got Robin Williams and Toby Keith, than to add Elmo and Rosita?"

The 60-minute show, which opens July 8 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California, is an extension of the Workshop’s popular Talk, Listen Connect series, officials said.

In that effort, the Workshop created special episodes of the show following Elmo as his father was deployed overseas and as he returned home, including stories from actual military families on ways to cope with and talk about their feelings.

The live show will feature Elmo and Rosita talking to children about those same topics, with songs and appearances from other favorites like Grover.

Gary Knell, president of the Workshop, said the effort is the first live outreach program in the show’s 40-year history.

The tour will pass through 24 states, and is free to military families.

Powell said the USO is already discussing also taking the tour overseas, possibly later this year.

"We’re hearing from parents in places like Okinawa and Korea and Germany, saying they’re starting to see problems in schools with kids having trouble because of a deployment," he said.

"We can talk to them as adults and try to help, but nothing compares to what these characters bring to the table."

For more information on the workshop’s military outreach programs and details of tour stops, visit

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now