It's no fun being in the hospital -- that is, until someone bursts in, "sweeping the clouds away."
Cookie Monster and Elmo took a detour off Sesame Street to visit kids at the Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen. They were greeted with cheers, hugs and camera flashes as kids got to see the celebrities they usually see just on TV.
"I think he's a little scared," Melissa Napper said of her one-year-old son Henry. "Not sure what to think!"
"I'm sure his imagination is running wild right now," dad Neil Napper said.
Henry's big sister Audrey has been a patient in the hospital for 49 days. Their parents say visits like this help break up long days of treatment and make them forget why they're here.
"It's good for the kids," Neil Napper said. "They need a break. It's a great place here and everybody's friendly and happy all the time, but they deserve a break."
"It was definitely nice to see something happy here for a while," Melissa Napper said.
Elmo and Cookie Monster were in Burlington to perform at the Flynn Theater. Before their stage debut, they made the rounds in the children's hospital, greeting patients and their parents. Some kids were shy at first, but soon warmed up to give their furry friends a high five. Others recognized the familiar faces immediately and dove in for full-on hugs.
"It's the highlight of the day!" nurse Sarah Lake said. "Kids that are here for a couple weeks at a time, it's the same old square walls, same pictures on the walls. This is just some great big exciting thing, especially big celebrities like this. They're super excited!"
While a visit like this is exciting, nurses say there's a therapeutic element too.
"You want to do things at their level so they're more comfortable and not as scared," Lake said. "If you have things that are more appropriate to the patient, they're going to do better with their treatment and have better outcomes in the long run."
While medicine may make these young patients get better, a face full of fur will certainly make them feel better.
"It means a lot to the kids," Neil Napper said. "It's great to see them all smiles."
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