New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg enlisted the help of the Muppets on Friday, kissing Miss Piggy and naming the crew the new NYC Family Ambassadors.
In a tongue in cheek news conference, the mayor joked one day Lady Gaga and the next, Miss Piggy. Unfortunately we'll never know who was the better kisser because when Miss Piggy asked, the mayor replied, I never kiss and tell.
Though at times the news conference seemed like an excuse for Bloomberg to riddle off Muppet puns, the event was meant to encourage family travel to the Big Apple.
Having Kermit as a family ambassador for New York is pretty exciting, and I know that it's going to make other cities -- now listen carefully -- green with envy, Bloomberg said as the audience moaned.
Joined on stage by Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo the Great, and Pepe the King Prawn, commentators have called it the silliest press conference of Bloomberg's career. But it wasn't all jokes and puns. Bloomberg reiterated that families are a big part of the city's tourism industry, pointing out that they contributed $14 billion to the economy last year. That's why he's made the Muppet crew the new spokes-puppets for the city.
We're very excited to tell the more than 50 million people a year who visit New York City about all the great places in all five boroughs where your families can have one-of-a-kind fun, Kermit said. There are so many landmarks and great cultural sites, eating and shopping...
Did someone say eating and shopping? interrupted Miss Piggy, sharing her thoughts on the city's food and theater scenes.
Gonzo the Great touted the arts scene, while Pepe the King Prawn called New York a non-stop party and apologized for being late because he was downtown at the Fulton Fish Market visiting family.
The Muppets have had a big year, starring in a hit movie and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They join the likes of Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street and the Smurfs as the latest to work for NYC's tourism department, NYC & Company.
The city's Family Ambassador Program began in 2009 and is designed to highlight family-friendly activities and provide offers to tourists for discounts at various destinations across the five boroughs.
Bloomberg said family visits to the city have increased by 14.4 percent since the program's inception. He said Friday he was sure the Muppets would be right at home in their new role.
New York has been home to the Muppets since the 1960s, when I first came here with this guy named Jim Henson to see if we could try and break into show business, Kermit recalled.
New York is the most fabulous city in the world, added Miss Piggy. In fact, it's almost as fabulous as moi. And trust me, that's high praise indeed!
In a month where bullying took center stage, perhaps Gonzo the Great said it best: I'm here to reach out to all of the one-of-a-kind artists like myself from around the world. If folks where you live think you're a bit strange, come to New York, and you'll feel right at home.