Elmo and the Cookie Monster took time off from their national tour to pay a visit to children at Inova Fairfax Hospital to spread some cheer before the holidays. The Sesame Street characters didn't say much, but the children's smiles took the place of conversation.
Springfield’s Nilmarie Thillet, 15, was checking out the day they showed up but took a few minutes for a visit.
"I'm looking forward to going home and playing with my puppy," she said.
Her mother, Virginia Torres, was reminiscing.
"We're very excited about this. I grew up watching Sesame Street," she said.
Angela Irwin of Herndon watched her son Connor, 5, ward off a fever to go see the characters.
"He's had a fever the whole time, but whenever we mention something going on, he manages to get out of bed. It's amazing they find the energy when something fun is going on," Irwin said.
The Sesame Street characters were in town, performing at George Mason University's Patriot Center last weekend, and they took the time for the children at Inova. It was part of Inova's Child Life Services.
"Child Life works to promote the highest level of development by enhancing coping skills and decreasing anxiety levels for children, adolescents and families in a health-care setting," its literature stated.
Janice Moore, the Inova spokesperson, oversaw the visit.
"The most goodwill comes out at this time. These kids really get excited," she said of the program. "Most of the children's hospitals have them."
Christa Alter of New Jersey was traveling with the Sesame Street program. It is one of three Sesame Street troupes that spend 10 months a year on the road, stopping all over the country.
"They're all dancers. It's a Broadway-style show," she said.
They are performing at D.C. Armory after Christmas, and Alter was not sure whether they were planning to make a stop at the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C.
"It's always very rewarding to make the kids happy," she said.
The Child Life Services have a busy schedule at Inova around the holidays, according to Moore. Also on the schedule are some of the former Washington Redskins, featuring former defensive powerhouse Ken Harvey, who is now an author of children's books. He will be reading to the children. Nilmarie also saw Ronald McDonald, some Redskin cheerleaders and United Airline pilots.
Moore said there were Fairfax County motorcycle police coming also.