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The original Sesame Street float from 1974.

Sesame Street is an American children's television show co-created by Joan Ganz Cooney and produced by the non-profit Sesame Workshop (formerly known as Children's Television Workshop). The series, which debuted in November 1969, is known for educational content and images communicated through the use of puppetry, animation, short films, humor, and cultural references. It has aired on public television stations owned by PBS since its debut, with first-run airings of episodes moving to premium cable channel HBO in 2016.

Sesame Street was the first children's television show to use educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content, and the first show to study its educational effects on children. The program was intended to teach preschool children such things as letters and numbers, socialization and cooperation; but through the use of its humor, cultural references, celebrity guest appearances and Jim Henson's Muppets, the show was also able to have a strong appeal to parents. Sesame Street has been part of the childhoods of over 77 million Americans, spawned twenty international versions, and holds the record for the most Emmy Awards won by a children's television series.

History with the Macy's Parade

Floats

Sesame Street has featured floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1974, with six unique floats based on the series. These have generally featured the vast majority of the show's Muppet and human characters singing songs of their own (mostly from Sesame Street itself), sometimes accompanied in recent years by popular musicians. The original float appeared in 1974, featuring two buildings: the "123 Sesame Street" brownstone, and Hooper's Store. Also featured were a streetlight with the Sesame Street sign located at the front of the float, and a ramshackle fence at the back, decorated with numbers and letters. Big Bird was perched on the roof, Cookie Monster and other Muppet characters stuck their heads out of the windows, and human cast members Mr. Hooper, Gordon, and Bob stood in front. This float was retired in 1979 and replaced by a new float celebrating the show's 10th anniversary, where the buildings were replaced with a single two-story structure, with Big Bird sitting in a nest atop the building and the cast members and kids appearing in front.

The Sesame Street float was altered in 1981 to promote the new Sesame Street Live shows, including walk-around characters, then was retired for over a decade after 1982. While the Sesame Street float was absent from the Macy's Parade, Sesame Street Muppets (and a couple of walkarounds) appeared in a special car in 1984, and Ernie and Bert appeared in walkaround form in 1988 and 1990. The Sesame Street float returned in 1994, with an abstract design of the street made from books based on the show's current literacy curriculum; in 1998, this was replaced by a new float where the street is represented as a pop-up crayon drawing, with doors and windows opening and closing like in a lift-and-peek book.

123 Sesame Street Float

Two shots of the current "123 Sesame Street" float, from 2004. Left photo is of the back side (featuring Hooper's Store); right photo is of the front side (featuring the brownstone).

In 2002 and 2003, the float was redesigned to convey a message about universal goodwill; for the former year, the American Sesame Street cast were joined by a group of international Muppets from countries like China, Egypt, Germany, Mexico, and Russia. The current "123 Sesame Street" float, introduced in 2004, measures 32 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 2 stories tall,[1] and represents the show's history with the classic brownstone while also being what its designer called "modern and visually exciting."[2]

Balloons

Several Sesame Street characters have also appeared in balloon form. Big Bird's balloon debuted in 1988 and remained in its original version until 2001, when it was replaced with a second version that appeared until 2006. A Super Grover balloon was launched in 2003 and remained until 2006; and Abby Cadabby, one of the show's newer Muppet characters, got her own balloon from 2007 to 2009. Since the parade's last Sesame Street balloon was retired, the Sesame Street float has been preceded/followed by non-Muppet characters like Greg Heffley, Hello Kitty, Harold, Po from Kung Fu Panda, and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Timelines

Floats

  • Original (1974-1978)
  • 10th Anniversary (1979-1982)
  • Reading and Writing (1994-1997)
  • Pop-Up Book (1998-2001)
  • International (2002-2003)
  • 123 Sesame Street (2004-Present)

Songs featured

Notes and references

  1. " "Floating Beauty: The 81st Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Rides Down Broadway on Theatrical Moving Stages", Macy's press release, November 2007.
  2. Recount by the float designer, Louis Henry Mitchell
  3. 3.0 3.1 Because this song was performed on the "Reading and Writing" float, the lyrics were changed to promote the float's theme of literacy.

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