There was dancing in the aisles with some of America’s favorite characters this weekend at the Twin Rivers Theater and Event Center at Cherry Point.


There was dancing in the aisles with some of America’s favorite characters this weekend at the Twin Rivers Theater and Event Center at Cherry Point.



Sesame Street characters Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, Rosita and Honker entertained children of military families with a special guest and unique show just for them.



The USO Military Family Programs sponsored the shows.



Sesame Street Productions brought the characters almost everyone knows as well as Katie, a red-headed military kid character who faces problems just like many of those in attendance, such as having a parent deploy or transfers from one town to another.



Three-year-old Dominic Barra came with his grandmother from Camp Lejeune where his dad is stationed and was swinging an Elmo twirling light as he danced with the others to “The Elmo Slide,” a song that got even the adults on their feet and moving.



Many of those attending, like the Coast Guard family of Joel Ochoa of New Bern and Robert Lynch of Oriental, knew the words and dance moves to almost every song.



But a few tunes were new, even to those who watch the commercial production often or have been Sesame Street fans for years.



Sesame Street and the USO have teamed up to entertain military children since 2008, having toured 144 military bases in 33 states and 11 countries.



“Sesame Street knows children and the USO knows the particular problems of military families,” said Nicole McClendon, a production staffer.



The production’s story is about Elmo and friend Katie, the military child who gets help from her Sesame Street pals to learn to deal with her fears and excitement about relocating after her parent’s deployment.



Katie was created exclusively for the tour, first introduced to military families in 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and vice presidential wife Jill Biden.



“This production has a special message just for the kids who move between six and nine times during their childhood life and sometimes struggle with making relationships that last or fitting into new settings,” McClendon said.



The 30-minute production emphasizes the importance of adjusting to change and the power of friendship and is designed to help children learn they can hang on to old friends by phone, letter and computer and make new ones that broaden their horizon, McClendon said.



Although they get to hear “The Blues” tune to help fight those sad times they naturally feel in the process, the exit spirit of the Cherry Point crowd of kids leaving was all about “A Sunny Day.”



Selah, Joel, Olivia and Hannah Ochoa left smiling with their red, white, and blue USO bandanas and twirling lights.



Their father said, “There is definitely a message that resonates with my children.”



Sue Book is a reporter with the Sun Journal.