After 50 years as the voice and performer of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on the beloved children's program Sesame Street, Carroll Spinney has announced his retirement. His roles will be passed on to new performers and his remarkable half-century run. He says the decision was not an easy one, but the physical requirement for the characters have taken its toll, and the now 84 year old is ready to watch the next generation take over. While it has been a few years since he stopped performing as Big Bird, he has been the voice only for him since 2015.

Spinney has said that over the years that his work on “Sesame Street” acquainted him with countless fans who could not help but tell him how the show had changed their lives. Big Bird of course, being one of the most iconic characters fro the show, appearing on Saturday Night Live, The West Wing, and ever the Colbert Report.

Matt Vogel, who has been Spinney’s apprentice on Big Bird since 1996, will succeed him in the role. Vogel, who has also inherited the parts of other popular Muppets, including Kermit the Frog and Count von Count, said he saw the task of carrying on Spinney’s legacy as “daunting and important.”

Thank you Mr Spinney for bringing us Big Bird and inspiring us with your talent and wonder. The world is a better place because of you.