WASHINGTON – The company's CEO told the crowd of 300 that he wanted to talk about “something really important,” but a fuzzy,red,short guy known simply as Elmo clambered about the stage.
Thrashing his four-fingered hands in jumping jack motion,he said,“Elmo prefers to jog in the Senate hearing room.”
The high-pitched voice delighted toddlers,senators and others who had gathered in the Dirksen Senate office building. “Elmo says sorry,Mr. Gary,Elmo did not mean to interrupt you.”
Sharing the stage with Gary Knell,president and CEO of Sesame Workshop,the Sesame Street character's interruption captivated those attending Tuesday evening's reception to promote Sesame Workshop's “Healthy Lifestyles” program.
Using videos and DVDs,Sesame Workshop is encouraging children to lead healthy lives. That includes brushing their teeth,exercising and eating nutritious foods.
As guests enjoyed bite-sized hors d'oeuvres and two open bars,children scrunched their faces in confusion,fear or joy at the prospect of having their photo taken with the life-sized Wraparound Zoe,Elmo's,orange-haired,tutu-wearing,pearl-dazzling companion.
“It's nice they have things for kids in D.C.,instead of just adults,” said Murray S. Chanow,a senior legislative representative for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.
While they were waiting to see Elmo,Chanow's 3-year-old son,Sam,enthusiastically tugged on his father's tie before Chanow scooped him up.
“There's probably a lot of important decisions made in this room,and now they've got Elmo and Zoe in here,” Chanow said. “We think of this place as so serious,it's nice they have something a little lighter.”
Children received bags containing Sesame Street products. Inside were a toothbrush and watch,two DVDs starring Elmo as he promotes music and school and a video called “Let's Eat! Funny Food Songs.”
Baird Crapa,4,of Alexandria,Va.,gave two reasons to be excited about seeing Elmo.
“Because I like him!” he said. And,he added,“I like broccoli,” a vegetable Elmo chatted about earlier.
Baird's mother,Gretchen Crapa,said it was good for her children – Sebastian,2,also came – to be in a room full of many people who watch Sesame Street,thus broadening an experience that normally takes place in the privacy of their home.
Beyond Capitol Hill,Sesame Street is branching out to all corners of the earth,said John M. Lawson,president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations.
With programming adapted to the cultures of 23 countries,Lawson said,“Sesame Street really is the longest street in the world.”