Arts Desk

The Million Puppet March Is Real, and It Happens Tomorrow

In response to Mitt Romney’s comment in the first 2012 presidential debate that he’d yank federal subsidies for PBS—and you know, potentially snuff out Sesame Street's Big Bird—supporters of public media plan to descend on the National Mall tomorrow for the first Million Puppet March.

The nonpartisan march is scheduled to take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting at Lincoln Park and ending at the Reflecting Pool. Puppeteers, including representatives from the nearly 50-year old troupe Bread & Puppet Theater, are expected to attend and give their remarks.

Public-media lovers Chris Mecham and Michael Bellavia organized the event, finding each other via social media and drumming up the idea without ever having met.

Bellavia and Mecham say they hope the march will not only help continue government subsidies to public media, but also encourage individuals and corporations to donate privately. ”The puppets are a means to unite everyone together on an issue that should be a nonissue,” Bellavia says.

Beyond being just a form of entertainment and education, public media should be seen as a central tenet of American democracy that “creates informed electorates like no other form of media,” Mecham says. “Big Bird is a puppet; he is not a partisan issue. Public media is something everyone can get behind,” he says.

As of today, nearly 1,900 people have signed up for the event on Facebook, though Mecham and Bellavia aren’t expecting nearly that number of attendees. They anticipate a turnout closer to 600.

People in New York City, Atlanta, New Zealand, and elsewhere have planned additional happenings in support of public broadcasting. But good news for the folks who won't be able to make it to the Mall tomorrow: They can stream the whole march online.

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