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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at a Street Renaming Ceremony in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of Sesame Street

May 1, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody.

[Cheering]

Welcome to Sesame Street.

[Applause]

First I want to thank Jeff for leading the entire Sesame Street vision into this century. Thank you, Jeff, for your leadership.

[Applause]

Everyone who is here – this is a labor of love for all of us. We’re here because we believe in what Sesame Street means today and what it’s meant for half-a-century, what it’s done for our children. And a lot of us up here raised our kids with the help of Sesame Street and it made them better, stronger, more self-confident. So, this is something to celebrate today. I want to thank everyone who is here. A special thank you because she really made it happen – Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Thank you so much.

[Applause]

I want to thank and also welcome to her new role as the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne del Castillo. Thank you – congratulations.

[Applause]

All of the leadership of Sesame Workshop, all of the honored guests here, all of the Muppets, all of the actors – thank you all.

[Applause]

I hope at some point in these proceedings, I get formally introduced to a long lost relative of mine. His name is Big Bird – you may of heard of him.

[Laughter]

Never met him in person, though. Alright, now, I have some great people who work for me – and they really put their heart and soul into thinking about what to say on this important occasion. So, listen to this – E may be Ernie, B for Bert, and G for Grover but today is about the letter S. S is for smiles, and I bet even Oscar the Grouch is smiling now.

Unknown: [Inaudible]

[Laughter]

Mayor: Right on cue. And now we will change, in a moment, the S of 63rd Street and make it the S of Sesame Street.

[Applause]

And let’s not leave the numbers out of this. This important occasion was brought to you by the number 50 –

[Applause]

Fifty years of extraordinary programming, 50 years of making people’s lives better, 50 years of helping children believe in themselves. It’s absolutely amazing. Sesame Street changed this country. And for everyone who has been a part of it, I hope you feel that – that what you’ve done has been profoundly important. You know, we focus a lot in this city on early childhood education but long before that, Sesame Street was helping this entire country to know how much we can achieve if we reached out kids in their earliest years. And Sesame Street did so much to help people realize those young minds – the potential of those young minds, that they could be reached early.

Sesame Street’s fuzzy residents also practiced social activism at its cutest.

[Laughter]

And the show made a choice – the show made a choice long before most of the media had done it to show all of us, to represent all the people that make up our society, to show black and brown faces, young and old, male and female, and everyone on an equal footing.

For my children that was profoundly important. My children, growing up in a multiracial family, to see the whole world presented through Sesame Street, was part of their growth, was part of how they gained a sense of their place in the world.

There is also something beautiful for us watching when they were young to see our own city, even our own neighborhood portrayed in Sesame Street. And you cannot take the New York City out of Sesame Street, can you?

[Applause]

The two go hand-in-hand. I remember one day, there was a scene that showed a New York City bus going by and I realized it was just a couple of blocks from our house where they filmed it and it gave me that sense of, like, the connection to life in this city that really was wellspring of so much of what Sesame Street showed us and talked about, and so much of the ideas and the ethic that made Sesame Street great.

Also, Sesame Street was way ahead of the curve with the actors and the Muppets. And it’s important to acknowledge and thank our emcee because not only did she do amazing work on the show but she made history. Sonia Manzano was the first –

[Applause]

Part of our history. Sonia Manzano was the first Latina with a leading role in American television history.

[Applause]

And with the Muppets helping to show all the different realities of life and all the different possibilities of life at the same time – Julia, the Muppet with autism.

[Applause]

Zari, the Muppet from Afghanistan. The whole idea of showing us the fullness of the world. So, Sesame Street has inspired us all. It helped us to realized what was possible. Here in this city, there’s no question it helped to inspire us on our way to a city that’s truly devoted to early childhood education – Pre-K for All and soon 3-K for All here in New York City.

[Applause]

And to make it very, very simple Sesame Street has made this world a better place. And thank you to everyone for all you have achieved.

[Applause]

A few – it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do a few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

And it’s my honor now to use a little bit of mayoral magic and get a proclamation – look how quickly that just suddenly appears.

[Cheering]

And this proclamation – I’m not going to read it because it’s a lot of praise for Sesame Street and you already feel that. I’m only going to tell you the end. It says, “I, Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby proclaim Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 in the City of New York as Sesame Street Day.”

[Applause]

Congratulations, everybody.

[Applause]

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