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'Elmo's Healthy Heroes' show excites young audience

Elizabeth Buxton, 3, and her sister Samantha, 1, held onto their favorite "Sesame Street" characters while they watched the "Sesame Street Live" presentation of "Elmo's Healthy Heroes'' with their mother, Gretchen, Wednesday afternoon at The Sanford Center. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper1 / 2
Abby Cadabby was one of the many colorful characters gracing the stage Wednesday afternoon during the "Sesame Street Live" presentation of "Elmo's Healthy Heroes" at The Sanford Center. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper2 / 2

An unscientific poll of children flocking to the "Sesame Street Live" performance of "Elmo's Healthy Heroes," indicated that the title character is a heavy favorite.

"I love when that guy has his blanket in the helicopter," said Charlie Sannes, 4, of Linton, N.D., referring to a "Sesame Street" episode he saw at day care.

Charlie was in the matinee audience Wednesday morning with his mother, Tammi Sannes, grandmother, Kathy Lemoine, and cousins, Joey, 4, Max, 6, and Taylor, 12.

Isabel Loos, 4, who was in the audience with her sister Kilee, 2, and cousin Brooke Hunter, agreed that Elmo was the coolest. The children were accompanied by their grandmother, Andie Casper of Bemidji, and great-grandmother, Jeanette Downey.

"This is special because Great-Grandma is bringing them," said Casper.

Fynn Schlicht, 2, of Walker, with his mother, Carrie Schlicht, also voted for Elmo, as did Roycee Sutherland, 7, of Bemidji. With her mother, Kristie Sutherland, she bought a Sesame Street pennant depicting several of the characters and posed for a photo before the brightly lighted "Elmo's Health Heroes" stage set.

"Elmo's fuzzy," Roycee said, noting that she wore sequined black tights and a rainbow-colored fake fur top for the occasion.

Alena Millar, 5, of Bemidji, also used her red velvet dress to honor Elmo, who, she said, is her favorite color. Alena was in the audience with her mother, Brenda Millar, one-week-old sister, Lillian, and friends, Telana Kaiser, 4, and Asher Kaiser, 6, with their mother, Donni Thomas, and friend Rachel Humeniuk.

Telana said she likes Elmo because he sings songs and is funny.

The audience quieted immediately as Bert and Ernie came on stage, and from there, the high-energy singing, dancing and dialog took off with special lighting and surprise effects. In keeping with the Sesame Street preschool education theme, the number of the day was 1, and the letter of the day was "K," except that it turned out to be a girl named Kay, who was invited in a little Muppet mix-up. From that introduction, the "Elmo's Healthy Heroes" plot unfolded.

Sanford Center Group sales manager Cyrus Pansch said 31 percent of Wednesday's audience members were groups from day care centers and other children's facilities. He said The Sanford Center special performances have generated excitement.

"Everyone's kind of getting used to the idea that this is in my backyard, this level of entertainment," Pansch said.