NEW YORK -- Kids from all over the world got together Saturday with Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to celebrate Sesame Street's 20th birthday.
Fifty freshly scrubbed and gaily bedecked youngsters from 3 to 6 years old squirmed and squealed as they waited for festivities to begin at the pathfinding program's studio on Manhattan's West Side.
'What's so important about Big Bird?' growled Oscar the Grouch, popping up and blowing his garbage can cover from beside the steps of 123 Sesame St. as the children giggled.
'I hate birthdays.'
The kids, from as far away as Guam and England were entertained by their old friends from the award-winning Children's Television Workshop production.
The kids, decked out in hats made of paper bags glued to paper plates and decorated with red angel hair, green ribbons and yellow and blue crepe paper, posed with cast members, got their pictures taken on the Sesame Street set and had lots of birthday cake.
Edrienne (cq) Hernandez, 5, of Agana, Guam, proudly displaying a 'Merit Award' from Santa Barbara School by her principal 'for coming here.' She doffed her dayglow sunglasses like a movie star about to give an interview.
'I like big bird,' she exclaimed happily when asked her favorite character. 'I want to play with him.'
'How about Elmo?'
'He's funny too,' said she.
Sesame Street had its beginning in 1968 with the lofty ideals aimed at being an 'experiental laboratory to stimulate the educational development of preschool children via television.'
It came on the air in 1969, and in the following years became a favorite with millions of youngsters who learned to count and spell with Kermit the Frog, the Cookie Monster, Burt and Ernie and the rest of the puppets who have achieved a life of their own.
It was apparent that Big Bird was almost everyone's favorite.
'Big Bird's eight feet tall,' explained Ryan Hatch, 6, of St. Louis, Mo., who said he's been watching Sesame Street for four years.
The blue-eyed blond, wearing his crewcut in a punk-like spike, said his flight to New York was his first in a jet.
'I sent a card that was put in the surprise box,' said the dimpled youngster, in a multi-colored T-shirt and yellow shorts.
'It said Happy Birthday Sesame Street Gang.'