Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Gonzo showed up in Manhattan this morning to announce that they and their fellow Muppets have signed on as the city’s official family ambassadors over the next 12 months.
“Having Kermit as a family ambassador for New York is pretty exciting, and I know it’s going to make other cities – listen carefully – just green with envy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a quip-filled press conference to kick of the initiative.
The Muppets are partnering with NYC & Company, the city’s tourism agency, to encourage families to visit, offering tips on www.nyc.gov and publicizing places like the Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Coney Island.
Last year families visiting the city spent about $14 billion, according to the mayor’s office, and accounted for some 30 percent of the city’s record-breaking 50.5 million visitors.
Signing on the Muppets is part of the city’s initiative to reach 55 million visitors annually by 2015, which Bloomberg said would continue to create jobs and boost the economy.
“It’s one of the reasons why we weathered the recession better than other cities, and it creates an enormous amount of jobs and gives people an understanding of just how great New York is, so they come here for education, for medical care, for vacations, to start businesses,” Bloomberg said.
The collaboration is a natural one. The Muppets starred in The Muppets Take Manhattan in 1984, and Bloomberg also shared a scene with Miss Piggy in a holiday TV special, in which he admitted he “did ham it up a bit.”
“New York has been kind of home to the Muppets in one way or another since the 1960s when I first came here with a guy named Jim Henson to see if we could break into show business,” said Kermit, adding that he has a place in Central Park – not on Central Park. “New York is part of the Muppets. This city helped make us who we are today.”
Gonzo touted Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and his personal favorite, the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He added that he would be giving tips on the best places to water ski on the East River.
And Miss Piggy, who said she could usually be found having breakfast at Tiffany’s, raved about the city’s restaurants, shopping boutiques, department stores and flea markets.
“Well, the flea markets are okay,” Kermit interjected. “I prefer the mosquito markets.”
Mayor Bloomberg even got a kiss from Miss Piggy, though he declined to say whether it was better than his New Year’s smooch with Lady Gaga.
“They were both wonderful,” he said. “A kiss with Diana is better, to get me through the evening.”
The mayor also cleared up another question: Is he a man, or is he a Muppet?
It turns out that he is a man, but he does have a Muppet of a man at home.
“I have a Muppet at home that is a wonderful characterization of me,” Bloomberg said. “I’m actually a little taller and better-looking.”
Kermit chimed in: “I like to think of Mayor Bloomberg as an honorary Muppet.”
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