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Pop Culture

The Gen X grief when a 'Sesame Street' character dies is so real

We're the first generation to have educational programs molding our core memories.

Sesame Street, Bob McGrath

Bob McGrath, one of the original "Sesame Street" actors, has passed away.

"A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter."

It's a simple, repeated line from a one-minute sketch, but as a Gen Xer raised on public television, it's one of thousands of "Sesame Street" segments etched into my brain. Such memories still pop into my head at random times, clear as day, well into my forties. Bert singing about his oatmeal box while playing it like a drum. Kermit lamenting that it's not easy—but it is beautiful—being green. Buffy Saint-Marie breastfeeding her baby and explaining it to Big Bird. Mr. Hooper—the sweet, bow-tied man who ran the Sesame Street corner store—dying.

I was 8 when Mr. Hooper died. It was a big deal. I rewatched part of that episode recently to see what I'd think of it as an adult. The "Sesame Street" gang of 1983 handled it masterfully, helping us all process his unexpected death through Big Bird's own experience of learning about what it means to die.


"Big Bird, when people die, they don't come back," said Susan.

Big Bird let that reality sink in, then said that things wouldn't be the same without Mr. Hooper—exactly the sentiment we all had.

Bob comforted Big Bird, saying, "You're right, Big Bird. It'll never be the same around here without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him, and to know him and to love him a lot when he was here."

And now the always kind, always gentle Bob has joined Mr. Hooper and the original Big Bird, Carol Spinney, in whatever comes next. Bob McGrath passed away this past week at age 90, and I found myself mourning the loss more than I would have expected.

I suspect I'm not alone.

Those of us in the original "Sesame Street generation" were the guinea pigs on which the theory of educational children's television programming was tested. It was an experiment that proved beneficial for millions of us, helping us grow up smarter, stronger and kinder, according to research—but it also gave us a unique relationship with the people and characters who lived on Sesame Street.

The generation that came before us didn't have anything like "Sesame Street" or "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" or "The Electric Company," and the generations after us have had so much more educational programming to choose from. But those shows were all we had besides mostly-horrible-in-hindsight Saturday morning cartoons. For us, the people and characters on "Sesame Street" formed a core part of our most wholesome childhood memories. They weren't just entertainers, but teachers. They helped us become better humans in addition to teaching us our letters and numbers, and the emotional connection created from that mentorship during our formative years is profound.

I'm not a huge crier, but I cried when Mr. Rogers died and I cried when Jim Henson died. I didn't expect it, but I couldn't help it. And when I saw the news this weekend that Bob McGrath from "Sesame Street" had died, I had the same visceral reaction. A piece of my childhood is gone, just like that, never to come back. I didn't know him, of course, but I felt like I knew him. And in some odd way, I feel like he actually knew me, because he knew and understood kids.

Perhaps that's why so many of us feel an emotional attachment to our childhood educational show icons. We weren't just mindless consumers of cartoon entertainment to them, but precious children with the potential to learn and discover, to become more caring and more knowledgeable. We knew they saw us and understood the stages we were going through. I felt that genuine respect for me as a human being even as a young child. And as an adult, I've learned about the sincerity and earnestness of the "Sesame Street" creators and how hard they worked to create the absolute best for kids, which only crystallizes what I felt back then.

"Sesame Street" didn't just make learning the alphabet and counting entertaining. It taught us about life, about people, about relationships and about ourselves—lessons that became part of our identities. I've often thought that the world would be an entirely different place if every young child was raised on a steady diet of "Sesame Street," and the older and more experienced I get, the more I believe that. It really did make us smarter, stronger and kinder.

Rest in peace, Bob. Thank you for everything you taught us and for being such a positive part of our childhood memories.

True

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Founded in 2018, NYC Brunch Squad brings together hundreds of people who come as strangers and leave as friends through its in-person events.

“Witnessing the transformative impact our community has on the lives of our members is truly remarkable. We provide the essential support and connections needed to thrive amid the city's chaos,” shares Liza Rubin, the group’s founder.

Despite its name, the group doesn’t just do brunch. They also have book clubs, seasonal parties, and picnics, among other activities.

NYC Brunch Squad curates up to 10 monthly events tailored to the specific interests of its members. Liza handles all the details, taking into account different budgets and event sizes – all people have to do is show up.

“We have members who met at our events and became friends and went on to embark on international journeys to celebrate birthdays together. We have had members get married with bridesmaids by their sides who were women they first connected with at our events. We’ve had members decide to live together and become roommates,” Liza says.

Members also bond over their passion for giving back to their community. The group has hosted many impact-driven events, including a “Picnic with Purpose” to create self-care packages for homeless shelters and recently participated in the #SquadSpreadsJoy challenge. Each day, the 100 members participating receive random acts of kindness to complete. They can also share their stories on the group page to earn extra points. The member with the most points at the end wins a free seat at the group's Friendsgiving event.

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It's not just an exhibit; it's an immersive journey through the heart of winter's magic. Whether you're a fan of the whimsical, the nostalgic, or just looking for a unique holiday experience, the ICE event at Gaylord Hotels promises a dazzling fusion of art and festivity, genuinely making it a standout holiday destination.

Artisanal Mastery Behind the Scenes

The magic of the Gaylord Hotels' ICE event doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It’s the handiwork of over 40 master ice artisans hailing from Harbin, China – a city celebrated for hosting the world's largest ice and snow sculpture festival. These artists travel thousands of miles to bring the stories to life, dedicating over six weeks to sculpting over two million pounds of ice.

Each stroke, carve, and chisel is a testament to their unparalleled skill. They transform colossal 300-pound ice blocks into delicate scenes, capturing the essence of holiday classics with astonishing precision. This intricate art form is more than just sculpting; it’s a way of storytelling that these artisans have perfected, turning ice into a canvas for holiday wonder.

The Magic of Ice Sculpting at Gaylord Opryland

At Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, the beloved holiday tale "The Polar Express™" springs to life in a frozen panorama. Imagine wandering through a world where the storybook train, the North Pole, and the enchanting characters are all intricately carved from ice. This isn't just viewing art; it's like stepping into the book.

The artisans' mastery shines in every detailed sculpture, capturing the warmth and wonder of the story in a paradoxically cool setting. Each scene, from the steam train's billowing smoke to the twinkling lights of the North Pole, is crafted to draw you deeper into the magical journey, making the Gaylord Opryland's ICE event a spellbinding experience that goes beyond mere spectacle.

A Christmas Story Comes to Life at Gaylord Rockies

Step into Gaylord Rockies, and you're stepping into a scene straight out of "A Christmas Story™." This Colorado location turns the timeless holiday film into an icy reality. Imagine gliding down ice slides beside Ralphie's house or peeking into the frosty windows of Higbee's department store, all sculpted from ice. It's an interactive playground where the story's most cherished moments are frozen in time, offering a unique twist on the traditional Christmas narrative.

The ice tunnels, resembling the streets of a snowy Indiana town, add to the immersive experience. Each slide, tunnel, and sculpture invites you not just to see but to actively participate in a winter adventure, capturing the essence of the beloved classic in a way you've never experienced before.

Whimsical Winter Wonderland at Gaylord National

At Gaylord National in Maryland, the timeless charm of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™" is brought to life in a whimsical winter wonderland. As you wander this icy marvel, you'll meet Rudolph, Clarice, and the entire gang, all beautifully carved from ice. It's a scene that ignites childhood memories and creates new ones for families.

Picture the joy of snapping photos next to a life-size ice sculpture of Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster or standing beside the glowing red nose of Rudolph himself. This Maryland extravaganza is more than just a visual feast; it's an interactive experience where every corner offers a new opportunity for families to bond and capture memories that will last long after the ice melts.

Dr. Seuss’s Classic at Gaylord Texan

At the heart of Texas, the Gaylord Texan transforms into a Dr. Seuss wonderland with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" Each sculpture in this icy expanse brings the whimsy of Whoville and its quirky inhabitants to life. Visitors are invited to wander through scenes straight from the beloved book, encountering the Grinch, his loyal dog Max, and the cheerful Who-folk, all expertly captured in ice.

It's a place where Seuss's playful rhymes meet the magic of the holiday season, offering a delightfully unique spin on festive celebrations. From the Grinch's cave to the bustling streets of Whoville, these sculptures are not just impressive in scale but in the joy they bring, creating an unforgettable holiday adventure deep in the heart of Texas.

Holiday Nostalgia with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Gaylord Palms

In the sunny setting of Florida, Gaylord Palms takes a nostalgic turn with "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Here, ice transforms into a sentimental journey back to the simpler joys of the holidays, as seen through the eyes of Charlie Brown and his friends. As you stroll through the exhibit, the beloved Peanuts characters, from Snoopy's doghouse to the iconic sparse Christmas tree, are all vividly recreated in ice.

This Florida spectacle taps into the heartfelt essence of the season, reminding us of the warmth and joy that come with holiday traditions. It's a place where each frozen scene, from Charlie Brown's quiet contemplation to the jubilant group gathering, resonates with the timeless message of holiday spirit and togetherness.

Beyond the Ice - Additional Attractions

But the wonder at Gaylord Hotels extends beyond the ice. Each resort turns into a holiday hub, brimming with activities for all ages. Think dazzling light shows, snow tubing adventures, and even encounters with Santa himself! Culinary delights await at various dining venues, offering everything from festive treats to gourmet meals. And let's not forget the captivating live shows, ranging from acrobatic performances to heartwarming musicals.

Each Gaylord Hotel becomes a comprehensive holiday destination, offering an array of experiences to make your festive season truly unforgettable.

Experience The Magic

Don't just dream of a white Christmas; click here to learn more about the Gaylord Hotels' ICE event – your new holiday tradition awaits!

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