Military child ‘Katie’ joins in Sesame Street tour of Europe bases
By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 2, 2017
WIESBADEN, Germany — The USO and “Sesame Street” are continuing a nearly decadelong partnership with a tour of U.S. military bases in Europe.
The shows are designed to educate military children on how to stay in touch with friends during moves and how to cope when their parents leave the military.
This year’s European tour will last two months, with 40 shows at 19 bases in six countries. It began in Sigonella, Italy, on Sept. 11, and will be making its way north and west, finishing in Rota, Spain, in November.
The next shows are Oct. 4 in Sembach and Oct. 5-6 at Ramstein Air Base.
“‘Sesame Street’ knows children, and the USO knows the military, so it’s been a good partnership,” said Jeremy Wilcox, an entertainment tour director for the USO.
In 2011, “Sesame Street” unveiled Katie, a character whose parents are serving in the military. She is often faced with moves away from her friends — a disruptive fact of military life that the shows hope to ease with educational songs and dances by characters such as Elmo, Cookie Monster and Grover, who tell Katie that they will always be friends and that she should stay in touch.
“Studies have shown that (military) children move six to nine times in their formative years, and then transitioning out of the military can be very difficult,” Wilcox said.
At a recent show in Wiesbaden, Germany, more than 50 children were encouraged to sing and dance along with the characters in the 40-minute event.
The USO presents its “Sesame Street” tours annually, usually rotating between international and domestic tours every year.