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May 12, 1991|SUSAN PATERNO

Big Bird will fly into Long Beach this week, along with the rest of the Sesame Street gang, for a musical tribute to the age-old childhood pastime of playing school. It is a romping audience participation show for families, and especially children, starting Thursday at the Long Beach Arena.

In "Let's Play School," Big Bird's furry and feathered friends help him overcome show-and-tell anxiety--should he share a neat nest, Radar the teddy bear or a birdseed milkshake? Big Bird spends much of the show trying to decide, while cornstalks, haystacks, scarecrows and assorted barnyard animals prance about the stage.

Children who watch the Sesame Street television show, which has an estimated audience of 12 million each week, will recognize the characters: inseparable buddies Bert and Ernie, Professor Grover, Cookie Monster, Prairie Dawn, Oscar the Grouch, Barkley the Dog, Betty Lou, Elmo, Grundgetta and the Honkers, Amanda and Jodie.

Tickets for Sesame Street Live cost $9.50 and $10.50, and are on sale at Ticketmaster, May Co. and Music Plus. On Thursday, the 90-minute show starts at 7:30 p.m. Other show times vary: Friday shows start at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; on Saturday and May 19, shows are at 1:30 and 5 p.m. at the Long Beach Arena, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.

For more feathers, fur and fun, there is the eighth annual Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival and Parade next weekend.

About a dozen local bars and businesses will enter floats featuring live animals, bubble machines, waterfalls, faux Hollywood cheerleaders, the Radical Fairies in grass skirts, country-Western dancers, plus marching units made up of local activists, representatives from local social service agencies and "the other minority communities in Long Beach," said longtime festival organizer Vanessa Romain.

Long Beach has the country's fourth largest gay pride parade, after New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the organizers say. "It gives gays an opportunity to be out in public and not be ashamed," explained festival spokesman C.J. Derby. "You can be yourself, have fun and not worry or hide."

Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a display of panels dedicated to those who have died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, serves as this year's grand marshal. Last year, the festival and parade raised $46,000 that was donated to social service and educational charities, Romain said.

The festival starts at 10 a.m. Saturday in Long Beach's Shoreline Aquatic Park and continues until 10 p.m. Country-Western stars Dena Kaye, Jeff Miller and Jimmy James will perform throughout the weekend, along with comedian Lynn Lavner and disco singer E.G. Daily. Dancing, haircuts, an exhibit featuring local gay artists, food, drinks and carnival games are among the festival's diversions. Admission costs $10. The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

The parade begins at noon Sunday on Cherry Avenue at Bixby Park. The route continues on Ocean Boulevard and ends at Shoreline Aquatic Park. For more information, call 435-5530.

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