The Day I Met Big Bird (& Oscar the Grouch)
About a month ago I had the privilege to attend the U.S. premier of I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story at the Montclair Film Festival. The documentary chronicles the life of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) on Sesame Street.
I Am Big Bird Is The Definition Of #Feels
From the moment the film started I knew I was in for a emotional roller coaster ride. The documentary, produced by Copper Pot Productions, detailed the puppeting life of Caroll Spinney from his teenage years to the the present day. Interested in puppetry from his youth, Spinney got his big break when he met Jim Henson at a puppetry convention. The rest was history, as they say–Spinney joined the cast of Sesame Street and introduced children everywhere to that big kid who lived in a nest on the corner, that roller-skating canary, Big Bird.
While the technical aspects of Big Bird’s functionality on set were of great interest (Spinney stands in the suit with his right arm up the bird’s neck, operating the mouth and eyelids, and his left arm acting as the bird’s left arm, all while holding his monitor and script around his neck), the sometimes sad story of Spinney’s life and unbridled dedication to enriching the lives of children stole the show. Having grown up on Sesame Street, I had a vested interest in the sneak peek behind the scenes that the film provided. Little did I know that the man behind Big Bird was the most loving, open-hearted person I’d ever meet in my life.
What’s most touching about Spinney’s story is just how genuine a person he is. He is one of the few people on this earth who only has love to give and chooses to bring happiness to little children. And at 80 years old, Spinney is still Big Bird. He says he has no plans to retire for now, and that is what is perhaps the biggest takeaway from this experience. Spinney has created something bigger than himself, something he knows will enrich the lives of children for years to come, and all he wants to continue doing is give. That we could all be a little more like him would be a dream come true. Thank you, Caroll.