Sesame Street
The city helper's surprise prize
Air date November 23, 1990
Season Season 22 (1990-1991)
Written by Sara Compton
Directed by Jon Stone
Production October 4, 1990
Sponsors A, J, 16


Picture Segment Description

SCENE 1 Mr. Handford welcomes the viewer to Sesame Street. Maria announces that the mayor is going to award someone the "City Helper's Surprise Prize" today, and the winner happens to be someone on Sesame Street. The prize will go to someone who comes up with great new ideas to help make the city a better place to live. She and Telly think it will be Mr. Handford, who put some recycling bins outside of Hooper's Store. Mr. Handford knows for sure that he's not the recipient, because the mayor asked him to present the award. And he will not tell Telly and Maria who it is, because then it wouldn't be a surprise. Telly is determined to find out who it is!
Cartoon A paranoid bird doesn't like to be surprised ... unless it's a surprise party.
Artist: John Korty
(First: Episode 2088)

Muppets Spaceship Surprise
The crew lands on the Planet CH, where they are greeted by Chunky Cheese.
(First: Episode 2414)
Geometry of Circles 1 - Circle with Flower.png
Cartoon Geometry of Circles #1 "Circle with Flower"
(First: Episode 1393)
Animation A rock does somersaults for its peers, but gets little applause.
(First: Episode 2021)
Cartoon J family jamboree
(First: Episode 0365)
SCENE 2 Big Bird presents the letter J to the viewer, and some kids display things they have that begin with J, such as jeans, a jacket, and a jump rope. Snuffy emerges, and presents his J thing: a joke.
Telly laughs at Snuffy's joke, and thinks Snuffy will win the City Helper's Surprise Prize for it. Mr. Handford is still keeping the secret under wraps, no matter how much Telly begs to know.
Cartoon 'j' minuscula
(First: Episode 0475)
Song Joe Raposo sings "Water Baby" over footage of seals and kids swimming.
(First: Episode 2016)
Cartoon Animals walk.
(First: Episode 0926)
Muppets Grover sells newspapers in the street. He thinks they are for making paper hats, but a customer shows him they are actually for reading. The customer wants to buy a newspaper, but Grover won't stop reading the paper that the customer wants to buy. Grover reads about construction of a new building, a parade, and an expected rain shower, all of which occur as Grover reads.
(First: Episode 1966)
Cartoon Number factory 1-10
(First: Episode 2541)
Film / Cast Gordon joins a class for some exercises.
(First: Episode 1098)
Cartoon A map of Africa morphs into the shape of animals that are found there.
(First: Episode 2627)
SCENE 3 Big Bird gathers Maria, Snuffy and the kids in the courtyard to reveal the number of the day, 16. Maria points out that there are only 7 of them in the courtyard, and they need 9 more to make 16 people. However, Big Bird points out that there are enough feet to count - 6 of them have 2 feet, making 12, and Snuffy's 4 feet make 16 feet! They all play soccer.
Telly is impressed with Big Bird's logic, and thinks he will win. According to Mr. Handford, Big Bird is not the winner.
Cartoon I've Got the "Sixteen Blues"
Film In stop-motion, a boy makes landscapes out of sand and water.
(First: Episode 2039)
Muppets Annette Monster and Frankie Monster sing "Love the Ocean" to urge others to "show respect for the sea" and refrain from throwing trash in the water.
(First: Episode 2680)
Animation A/a (Gordon voice-over)
(First: Episode 2240)

SCENE 4 Telly's goal is still to find out who will win the City Helper's Surprise Prize today. Just then, Sidney comes by with some empty soda cans for Mr. Handford. Mr. Handford points him to the recycling bins, and he almost makes the mistake of putting an aluminum can in a plastic bin. He arranges his recyclables on a table and sings "One of These Things" to help himself (and the viewer) figure out what goes where. He remarks, "You gotta have a sharp eye to get into recycling!" Telly is sure Sidney will win the prize, but Mr. Handford disagrees.
Cartoon A story of a cat who hated rain, wished for it to stop, and witnessed the disastrous effects of no rain.
Artist: ArtistMike
(First: Episode 2724)
Animation Teeny Little Super Guy: Robert W. Shipshape gets a hat for his birthday, and it blows into the street. R.W. remembers not to cross the street without an adult; Teeny Little Superguy helps him across.
Artist: Paul Fierlinger
(First: Episode 1924)
Moschittababy.jpg Celebrity John Moschitta, Jr. has a baby who has a name beginning with every letter of the alphabet.
(First: Episode 2048)
Cartoon I am dry, he is wet. (dog washing)
Artist: Cliff Roberts
(First: Episode 0309)
Muppets "Long Time, No See"
(First: Episode 1698)
Cartoon A for Acorn
(First: Episode 1626)
SCENE 5 Oscar the Grouch and Grundgetta are about to have lunch, and wonder why there is a crowd (including Mr. Macintosh) gathering around Oscar's trash can. Mr. Handford conducts the ceremony, and awards the City Helper's Surprise Prize to ...
... Oscar! He gets the prize because he is always coming up with uses for what we call "trash." Oscar is outraged that he's been doing a good deed by using others' discarded items, and thus does not want the award.
Film Old paper, new paper
Music: "Blue Nosed Gopher" by Graham Preskett
(First: Episode 0972)
Cartoon Consonant Sound: J, jaguar
(First: Episode 1144)
Muppets Cookie Monster and The Beetles sing "Hey Food."
(First: Episode 1815)
Cartoon Number creatures #16
Song Joe Raposo sings "Pretty Baby."
(First: Episode 0040)
Muppets Muppet & Kid MomentErnie's lost the nickel he was going to use for candy, so Shola gives him another one.
(First: Episode 0565)
Cartoon A baby cries whenever he gets a beso.
(First: Episode 0433)

SCENE 6 Mr. Handford approaches Oscar with a small tree, which the mayor said Oscar could have instead of the medal. Oscar agrees to plant the tree inside his trash can - though he has Mr. Handford do it by dropping it down there, where it falls a long way and hits the dirt. Telly announces the sponsors, and a full credit crawl follows.


  • This episode marks the debut of David L. Smyrl as Mr. Handford, who continued to play the role through Season 29.
  • Grundgetta appears in this episode not wearing her dress, fully nude like Oscar and most Grouches.

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