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Sesame Street has introduced a new character, Julia, a little girl who has autism.

The Sesame Workshop says Julia is being introduced as part of a campaign to take the stigma away from the disorder.

The workshop hopes Julia will help those who are dealing with autism.

Julia will be portrayed as a girl who “does things a little differently” when playing with her Muppet friends, including Elmo and Abby, the workshop says.

“If you’re five years old, and see another kid not making eye contact with you, you may think that child doesn’t want to play with you. But that’s not the case,” Sherrie Westin told People Magazine.

“We want to create greater awareness and empathy.”

Photo Sesame Street

Photo Sesame Street

Julia won’t feature in the Sesame Street TV show but she will be included in digital and printed storybooks.

“Families with autistic children tend to gravitate toward digital content, which is why we created Julia digitally,” said Sherrie Westin.

“We want parents and children to understand that autism isn’t an uncomfortable topic.”

Sesame Street is also producing online tools as part of its See Amazing in All Children initiative, to help people affected by autism manage everyday activities.

Their guides, aimed at families with children aged between two and 5, include ones on brushing your teeth, visiting a restaurant and crossing the road.


Sesame Street’s Sonia Manzano, who has played Maria on the children’s show for more than 40 years, is retiring.

Sonia Manzano, 65, joined Sesame Street in 1971 and became a series regular in 1974, giving helpful advice to characters like Big Bird and Elmo.

The actress was also a writer on the show, winning 15 Emmy Awards for her work.Sesame Street Maria Sonia Manzano

The news has led to a flood of tributes on social media, with many remembering Sonia Manzano fondly from their childhoods.

She told a conference of librarians in San Francisco that she would not be returning for Sesame Street‘s next season.

“Thank you but don’t be bummed!” Sonia Manzano later tweeted to disappointed fans, adding that she could return for the show’s 50th anniversary.

Sonia Manzano’s character arrived on Sesame Street working at a bookstore but eventually moved to the Fix-It Shop alongside Luis, the show’s Mexican-American handyman.

Over the years on Sesame Street, Maria and Luis got married and even had a child.


Ed Sheeran joined Sesame Street gang a song to perform an educational song.

The 24-year-old singer filmed the program back in October 2013, but it has taken until now for bosses to unveil his performance of Two Different Worlds with Elmo, Grover and the gang.

The pop song teaches children about the different rules for when talking at home or in school.Ed Sheeran sings with Sesame Street gang

The lyrics are: “At home I can speak whenever I please. I can talk real loud and shoot the breeze.

“At school I raise my hand in the air when there’s something that I want to share.”

The Muppets sing along with Ed Sheeran as he plays his guitar.

Announcing its release Ed Sheeran posted the video on his Twitter page before adding: “Filmed that a long time ago, happy it’s finally out.”

The two minute 49 second video had been viewed more than 290,000 times on YouTube.

Last month, whilst on tour in Australia, Ed Sheeran also filmed an appearance, playing himself, in the Australian soap Home and Away.

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Sesame Street is the latest group to launch their own version of Flappy Bird.

Flappy Bert parodies the hit game, with players having to guide the Sesame Street character through various pipes.

Earlier this week Flappy Bird was removed from sale after creator Dong Nguyen said the fame that had come with his success “ruins my simple life”.

Since then numerous copycat versions of the game have been launched.

Fall Out Boy have announced they are to release their own version of viral app.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this game was,” the band posted on their official website.

Flappy Bert parodies Flappy Bird, with players having to guide the Sesame Street character through various pipes

Flappy Bert parodies Flappy Bird, with players having to guide the Sesame Street character through various pipes

They added: “We bring you Fall Out Bird…shoutout to the OG Flappy Bird, RIP.”

Meanwhile a visit to Apple’s App Store shows a number of games with very similar titles or concepts still available – Flappy Bee, City Bird: Flappy Flyer and Fly Birdie are just some of the examples.

Flappy Bird had been downloaded more than 50 million times, making it this year’s most popular mobile game so far.

In an interview with Forbes, 29-year-old Dong Nguyen said: “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed.

“But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird.”

Dong Nguyen was making as much as $50,000 a day from advertising revenue.

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Four years ago, New York City, by a Mayoral Proclamation from Michael Bloomberg, established November 10, 2009, as “Sesame Street Day”.

Sesame Street Day 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the show’s first broadcast on November 10, 1969.

Sesame Street Day 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the show’s first broadcast on November 10, 1969

Sesame Street Day 2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the show’s first broadcast on November 10, 1969

To celebrate, the corner of 64th Street and Broadway in Lincoln Square was temporarily renamed 123 Sesame Street with a dedication ceremony on November 9, 2009.

Sesamestreet.org celebrated its own Sesame Street Day throughout the week of November 10 – 17, 2009.

Over three million cheering spectators lining the streets of Manhattan were treated to the awkward sight of Elmo the puppet singing together with Big Bird at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The potentially inappropriate decision by the makers of Sesame Street follows directly in the wake of allegations that Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the much-loved red Muppet sexually abused up to four young men.

Taking their place among stalwarts such as Buzz Lightyear, Sailor Mickey Mouse, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Spider-Man and Kermit the Frog, Elmo and his buddies have long been a fixture in the parade enjoyed by up to 50 million people watching from the warmth of their homes.

Despite the controversy, organizers said they hoped the parade will lift the spirits of New Yorkers still recovering from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and thousands of those affected were given front-row seats by Macy’s.

Unrepentant, the makers of Sesame Street had given prior warning that they would not pull the loveable red monster from the float.

Yesterday a representative for Macy’s told TMZ: “Elmo will be joining his Muppet friends on the Sesame Street float with an alternate puppeteer bringing him to life.

“Current events have no bearing on Sesame’s participation in the Parade and we are confident their world-renowned, family-friendly entertainment and educational programming will continue to bring kids and families joy for decades.”

However, Twitter lit up with those who found the appearance of a character now unfortunately linked to sexual abuse claims odd.

Meanwhile, beneath blue skies and 50-degree temperatures, the huge balloons were carried along a new route down 6th Avenue by 8,000 trained wranglers.

It kicked off at 9:00 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West, continued on to Columbus Circle and turned onto Central Park South. The parade then snaked down Sixth Avenue and headed from 59th Street down to 34th Street, making its final stop at Macy’s Herald Square.

The helium balloons joined 28 floats, 1,600 cheerleaders and dancers, 900 clowns, 11 marching bands and, of course, Santa Claus. There was also an appearance by Miss USA winner, Olivia Culpo, who grinned as she waved at the screaming spectators.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012

The nation’s biggest singing stars and celebrities also entertained the crowds, including Call Me Maybe songstress Carly Rae Jepsen, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Flo Rida and Whoopi Goldberg, The Muppets and the U.S. Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics known as The Fab Five.

Some parade-goers had camped out overnight to get a good spot, while others came well-prepared with folding chairs.

Alan Batt and his 11-year-old twins, Kyto and Elina, watched the parade at the end of the route, seemingly too far away for a good view. But they had an advantage: Two tall stepladders they hauled over from their apartment eight blocks away – one for each twin.

“We’re New Yorkers,” the 65-year-old Alan Batt said.

“We know what we’re doing.”

With the height advantage, “I get to see everything!” Kyto Batt said.

But it’s not all joy as the parade snakes through the city, with Today host Matt Lauer coming under fire from viewers for his on-air blunders, while others criticized the decades-long tradition going ahead amid world helium shortages.

Yet others stayed in the festive mood while watching the parade, with organizers saying they hope that the display will help lift the spirits of New Yorkers who are still recovering from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

In a special tribute to those suffering from the effects of the hurricane and those helping the victims, the parade featured a float dedicated to first responders and each person marching in the lineup wore a Red Cross pin.

Macy’s also gave 5,000 tickets to families affected by the storm and organized transportation to whisk them to the route.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city, along with local groups and businesses, is organizing 26,500 Thanksgiving meals for those hit by the storm.

“Those people who don’t have heat, electricity, water, we have a responsibility to get them back and get their lives back and maybe next year they’ll be back here smiling as well,” Michael Bloomberg said.

Speaking to CBS before the parade, Michael Bloomberg revealed he would be spending his Thanksgiving Day visiting police and firefighters in the Rockaways before thanking volunteers.

Between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the dozens of flattened balloons depicting comic book characters were all laid out on the ground around the Museum of Natural History and blown up with helium to their full size.

“Each one of the elements in the parade start as a simple sketch, and we sit with the artist and talk about what we want to see come to life,” Amy Kule, executive producer of the parade, told 9News.

Spectators who decided to brave the chill and come out Wednesday to witness the last-minute preparations for the main event got a chance for get a close look at their favorite balloons without jostling for space with three million other people.

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924 when it was known as the Macy’s Christmas Parade and starred animals from the Central Park Zoo. In 1927, it debuted its first helium character balloon, Felix the Cat.

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The creators of Big Bird have called on the Obama campaign to withdraw a new advertisement that uses the character in an attack on rival Mitt Romney.

The ad mocks the Republican candidate for singling out the public broadcaster behind Sesame Street for spending cuts.

Mitt Romney said in a presidential debate last week that he would slash funding to PBS, despite liking Big Bird.

Opinion polls suggest Mitt Romney has hit Barack Obama’s lead after the Republican’s strong debate performance.

With election day looming on 6 November, the two White House rivals campaigned on Tuesday in the key election swing state of Ohio.

The creators of Big Bird have called on the Obama campaign to withdraw a new advertisement that uses the character in an attack on rival Mitt Romney

The creators of Big Bird have called on the Obama campaign to withdraw a new advertisement that uses the character in an attack on rival Mitt Romney

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind the long-running children’s show, said in a statement that it was a nonpartisan organization.

“We do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns,” the organization said.

“We have approved no campaign ads and, as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.”

Barack Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign was considering the request.

The US government partially funds PBS and National Public Radio, both targets of conservative politicians.

Barack Obama has used Mitt Romney’s comments in their first debate to attack the Republican candidate’s spending priorities.

The advertisement pokes fun at Mitt Romney with clips of him mentioning Big Bird and PBS throughout the campaign.

“One man has the guts to say his name,” says the ad, flashing to Mitt Romney and then the feathered character.

“Big. Yellow. A menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about. It’s Sesame Street.”

A Mitt Romney spokesman accused the Obama campaign on Tuesday of not focusing on serious issues.

“I just find it troubling that the president’s message, the president’s focus 28 days from election day, is Big Bird,” Kevin Madden told reporters.

The latest Reuters poll suggests Mitt Romney has erased Barack Obama’s advantage with voters on a range of issues, including the economy.

A Pew Research Center poll indicated Mitt Romney was leading the president by four points.

And according to a Gallup poll, Mitt Romney was at 49% to Barack Obama’s 47% among likely voters. However, Barack Obama was leading in the same survey among registered voters.

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