Puppets descend on capital in Million Puppet March

Public Broadcasting Station supporters rallied along side Sesame Street characters outside the nation's Capitol Saturday show their loyalty to the educational network.

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – As far as marches to the Capitol go, Saturday’s rally had some memorable characters.

The so-called “Million Puppet March” set out to be a colorful and fun way of showing support for the Public Broadcasting Service.

Hundreds of supporters met at Lincoln Park, sporting sock puppets, marionettes and full-blown costumes.

Naturally, Big Bird was a popular choice.

The march “was spurred on during the first presidential debate when Gov. Mitt Romney made that off-hand comment,” says Michael Bellavia, who co-organized the Million Puppet March.

Romney’s comment, following a question about what spending he would cut, included a plan to stop the subsidy to PBS.

“I like PBS, I love Big Bird… but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for,” he said at the time.

While the event was designed to be a nonpartisan show of support for public broadcasting, politics inevitably slipped in.

Some participants used Romney’s line as a rallying cry for President Barack Obama. Still, most tried to focus specifically on public broadcasting.

“I try to keep politics out of it,” says Michael Schupbach, who used to work with the show.

“I think PBS is a good idea. I’m here to support my friends. How people vote is up to them,” he says.

Similarly, people on the march talked with a certain nostalgia about childhood memories.

“I grew up on the ‘Muppet Show,’ I grew up on ‘Sesame Street,’ ” says Jared Stern. “I want to make sure it continues.”

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