Detroit – The adults in the auditorium of the Fleming Early Learning Neighborhood Center were buzzing with excitement and childish laughter Thursday morning in anticipation of a “Sesame Street” event, waiting for the students to arrive for the show to begin.
The children finally entered and reluctantly calmed down amid a barrage of “falls” from their teachers as they took their places on the floor in the center of the room.
Students and adults alike were eager to see a live performance of one of television’s oldest children’s shows, as “Sesame Street” kicks off its first-ever nationwide tour to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Many students didn’t know it was the same show their parents and even grandparents loved growing up. They were also unaware that Elmo would be making an appearance on stage soon.
But out of a large black box, previously unnoticed on stage, emerged one of television’s most beloved and recognizable characters, a shrill, hairy red monster with an affinity for impromptu songs and instruments.
“Hello everyone, Elmo is so glad to see you!” The star character of “Sesame Street” said as he immediately began an introduction accompanied by a ukulele to the crowd.
It’s hard to imagine a lot of things that can bring together a room full of people between the ages of 5 and 55, but Elmo had no trouble getting the attention of every person in the audience, regardless of their age.
“Kids know when they watch ‘Sesame Street’ it’s fun, it’s entertaining, but most of all, they’re learning,” said Karla Bennett, teacher at Fleming.
Elmo and members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra taught children the basics of musical opposites, such as fast and slow, through several of the show’s classic songs.
There was no need to teach anyone the lyrics to Elmo’s favorite songs; the whole audience, adults included, perfectly joined in unison for the interpretations of “La chanson d’Elmo” and “Frere Jacques”.
As the show ended and Elmo retreated behind his curtain, several children let out cries of “We love you Elmo”, while others stared at the floor in disappointment as their time together came to an end.
After the brief music lesson, the kids jumped down the hall to the gymnasium, where volunteers from the Grandir Grandi program introduced the students to the violin and basic percussion instruments.
Before the show started, Rick DeVore, PNC Bank Detroit and Southeast Michigan Regional President, gave a keynote address and offered iPads to five teachers for their performance. PNC is a sponsor of the Sesame Street Road Trip through its Grow Up Great program.
Mayor Mike Duggan also declared June 20 “Sesame Street Day” in Detroit in honor of the show’s visit.
“Sesame Street” will continue its celebration of Detroit with a free show at Lafayette Park at 8:45 am Saturday. At the event, the US Postal Service will honor the show by unveiling new “Sesame Street” Forever stamps.