honored as Grand Marshall at Michigan State
State University Takes a Homecoming Leap With the Help of a Famous
of The Lansing State Journal
the Frog is happy to do parades and interviews and such. He draws
the line, however, at playing football.
not very good as a player," he said. "I'm a little small.
I blend in with the grass."
after appearing at a sold-out alumni banquet Friday morning, he'll
retreat to the Spartan Stadium press box for Saturday's Michigan
State University homecoming game.
coach John L. Smith offered him a spot, Kermit claimed, and diagrammed
had a green line, indicating my possible participation, followed
by a red line. It turned out that the red line means blood, so I
decided not to be part of the game."
was discussing the offer Friday in the Breslin Center, prior to
being grand marshal at the MSU Homecoming parade. An alert observer
might have noticed that:
He was mostly joking.
• His words were emerging from the gentleman next to him.
don't know who that guy is," Kermit claimed. "He's a stalker."
he's Steve Whitmire, 47, the voice of Kermit since Jim Henson's
death in 1990. Most of this interview, however, was conducted as
Kermit. He's been to academia before, including a speech at the
University of Oxford in England.
usually have presidents and really important people," Kermit
said. "Not so much frogs."
he's been grand marshal before - in a Rose Bowl parade and in a
town parade in Kermit, Texas.
October 2005, Homecoming king, Kermit the Frog, celebrates with
the cheerleaders from Kermit High School in Kermit, Texas.
"It's a little scary," he said. "I'm
just a little, tiny frog."
Most scary, he said, was the prospect that Miss
Piggy would be there. He claimed to have his own security guards.
"You can never have too much security when
there are pigs in the crowd," he said.
The tenuous Frog-Piggy romance has persisted for
"She's matured as a sow," Kermit said.
"And I mean that in the most respectful way. ... It's not easy
dating a pig. You may know what I mean; I know this is a big agricultural
THE PERFECT GUEST
should be famous, popular and green. Other preferences - being a
mammal, for instance - are expendable.
that case, MSU has its ideal. Kermit the Frog is grand marshal of
the parade, for what should be the greenest homecoming ever.
started brainstorming to see if we could come up with someone really
unusual," said Bev VandenBerg, assistant director of the Alumni
chose Kermit, of Muppet fame, and a color-coded event:
Green-and-white ice cream, handed out in cups at noon Friday.
Last year, 600 people were served before the supply ran out.
The green-clad MSU football team, facing Illinois. So far, MSU
has been unbeatable up to 11 p.m.
The green-clad Spartan Marching Band. It's in the parade and at
the game; then it closes the "Spartan Spectacular,"
at the Breslin Center.
And Kermit, who has shown for 51 years that green can be cool
and amphibians can be stars.
has only been grand marshal twice. One was a decade ago, for the
Rose Bowl; the other was last year in Kermit,
town, just south of New Mexico, has 5,714 people. You could fit
them into the Rose Bowl almost 20 times.)
first, VandenBerg said, calls to Muppets management weren't returned.
Fortunately, an MSU alumnus, Paul Labell, knew the head of Disney,
which owns the Muppets. The deal was set.
cynics assumed this would just be a random puppet or costume with
a temp actor inside. Not so.
Whitmire, 47, will be here. He's the towering (6-foot-4) puppeteer
who took over the Kermit role after Jim Henson's death in 1990.
Kermit will be in full voice. He'll read to Lansing elementary-school
children Friday morning, lead the parade Friday afternoon, speak
at the sold-out alumni banquet Saturday morning, then watch the
game from the press box.
am amazed at how much joy people have when they meet him,"
said Debbie McClellan, director of creative affairs for the Muppets.
"People get this giddy look."
all part of the cheery lifestyle of the green and famous.
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