US Presidential Election 2012

'Million Muppet March' next month to save Big Bird, PBS subsidy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 4:31am

Plans to save Sesame Street's Big Bird from possible extinction are taking shape in the form of a puppet-based protest dubbed the "Million Muppet March".

The event is planned for November 3 at the National Mall in Washington, three days before the general election.

Romney had pledged during a presidential debate early this month to end the US federal government's subsidy for the Public Broadcasting Service despite his professed love for Big Bird, one of the characters on PBS' 43-year-old children's educational programme Sesame Street, which features the Muppets.

Two men who had never met floated the Million Muppet March idea on social media and immediately united to defend public broadcasting.

Michael Bellavia, 43, an animation executive from Los Angeles, and Chris Mecham, 46, a university student in Idaho, separately came up with the idea to defend PBS.

Bellavia bought the internet address www.millionmuppetmarch.com during the debate and discovered Mecham had already started a Facebook page by the same name. Within half an hour after the debate, they were on the phone with each other, planning the march.

Both men consider themselves fans of Sesame Street, the best-known programme on PBS, which received US$445 million of US$3.8 trillion in federal budget outlays this year. "Romney was using Muppets as a rhetorical device to talk about getting rid of public broadcasting, which is really so much bigger than Sesame Street," Mecham said.

The two men hope to create what Bellavia called a "lovefest" featuring performances with Muppets. "It does seem like we might get close to the biggest ever assemblage of puppets in one place," Bellavia said.