Empire State Building to Light Tower in Celebration of Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary; The Mayor’s Office of New York City Declares “Caroll Spinney Day” to Honor Puppeteer Behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch

November 8, 2019

(New York, NY – November 8, 2019) – Sesame Street is turning 50! To mark the anniversary of the beloved children’s program – and the nonprofit educational organization behind the show, Sesame Workshop – the Empire State Building will be lit in the familiar yellow and green of the Sesame Street sign on Sunday, November 10th.

Today, at an advance lighting ceremony at the Empire State Building, the Mayor’s Office of New York City declared it to be “Caroll Spinney Day,” honoring the puppeteer who recently retired after playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969. Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, presented an official proclamation to Spinney at the iconic building’s visitors’ center, and Big Bird was on hand to flip the ceremonial switch.

“From the very beginning, New York City has been our hometown, as well as the physical and emotional inspiration for Sesame Street,” said Steve Youngwood, President of Media & Education and Chief Operating Officer, Sesame Workshop. “We are thrilled to celebrate our milestone anniversary with the Mayor’s Office and the landmark Empire State Building—partners who also celebrate diversity, embrace innovation and encourage us all to reach for the skies.”

“We recognize Sesame Street’s contribution to the engagement with and education of children and families for 50 years, and are thrilled to welcome Big Bird to our observatory and showcase Sesame Street in its signature green and yellow on our landmark tower on November 10,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, President of the Empire State Building Observatory.

Sesame Street was a pioneer in using television as an educational medium, and has set the gold standard for children’s programming worldwide for more than 50 years,” said the Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne del Castillo. “I was delighted to join Mayor de Blasio in May when he renamed West 63rd Street as Sesame Street, and I am honored to offer the Mayor’s proclamation declaring November 8, 2019 ‘Caroll Spinney Day,’ in recognition of this master puppeteer who gave life to two of Sesame Street’s most engaging characters, both of which have brought so much joy and learning into our lives.”  


About Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit www.sesameworkshop.org.