Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, frogs and pigs, to the True Tales of Muppet Fandom awards. Our fuzzy and blue-ribbon panel has combed through the contestentries, and I think we’ve come up with the best collection of goofy Muppet fandom stories ever assembled. So we’re proud to present the three prize-winning stories, along with four runner-up stories that I just didn’t have the heart to throw out.

For everyone who entered who didn’t win a prize, all I can say is that I hopethe winning entries inspire you to go out there and commit even more egregiousacts of fandom. After all, there are no losers in this contest. (Insert extremely obvious joke here.)

The Runners-Up

Oh, you kids, you’re all so cute and compulsive and vaguely unsettling, you knock me out with your adorable fanaticism. I got so many cute stories and embarrassing photos that I’m forced to award extra cheap-ass low-budget runner-up prizes to four more people. So, in that spirit, each runner-up wins a random Sesame Street PVC, chosen from the vast supply of spare Sesame Street PVC’s I happen to have lying around the house. (That’s a whole other story; don’t ask.) In the event that one of our prize winners can not fulfill his or her duties as a Muppet Fan, the runners-up may be called upon to serve as Muppet Fans in their place.

Rich Morrison of Charlottesville, VA:

“My love for Kermit knew no bounds last year for Halloween. Here I am dressed up heading for a party at work, having just stepped out of my office to my staff waiting for me. They had no idea what I was going to be till then. My wife made the costume and ran out of the material, so she improvised with stockings that she tried to color green to some success.

“You can’t see my face in the costume… only my immediate staff knew who it was in there. To my amazement, as well as theirs, women in the building knewwho I was by my legs! I wear a suit and tie to work everyday, honest! My wife loved it but questioned this.

“I drove home in full costume, drawing stares and waves from people. I answered our door and a good number of kids recognized Kermit, which pleased me greatly, knowing the Muppets are not popular TV icons currently.”

Oh, man, what is not to love about this story? The stockings, the flippers, the sad office plant. Drawing (alarmed) stares and (nervous) waves from the public at large. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Rich, you are a hero to everyone at Tough Pigs HQ.

Your prize: Snuffleupagus wearing a beret.

Mark Pethick of Innisfil, Ontario:

“I got a friend of mine who worked at K-Mart to steal the large cardboard Muppet Classic Theater display for me… I think I still have it somewhere. He worked in shipping and receiving, so he stole it before it even went up in the store. He didn’t get caught… he’s now a manager in the same chain.”

Okay, that story in and of itself would be scandalous enough for me — he snagged the display before they even got to use it! But then Mark also sent this cute as a button photo of himself — taken on his fifth birthday — trying out his brand-new birthday present, a Muppet Sound drum kit. Play that funky music, white boy.

Your prize: Oscar the Grouch throwing a paper airplane.

Matt O’Rourke of Miramar, FL:

“There’s a Goodwill thrift store my mother and I frequent that often has videos that people donate (both commercial releases and things they taped from TV). Usually, on a good day, they’ll have about 25 videos, mostly commercial releases. Well, today was different. We went in the store, and I found a deep metal basket, filled to the brim with tapes, all with things recorded off theTV. Now, I have struck gold in this store more than once — I got some very rare stuff from the 80’s for, like, a dollar — so even though there was a huge pile of videos in front of me, I needed to check every one, to see if I could find any Muppet material.

“What a fool I was. I picked up and put down 553 videos that day, without any success. I went through nature specials, Lawrence Welk episodes, Sally Jesse Raphael episodes, and lots of figure skating tapes, but no Muppets. I now have a cut on my right hand pinkie finger, a bruise on my stomach and a pull in the hamstring of my left leg, all to get through every video in the basket. People were looking at the huge stacks of gone-through videos and thought I was nuts. One lady actually asked me if I was insane, and I said no, I’m a Muppet fan.”

Matt, you definitely deserve something for your trouble, and I’m sorry it has to be this. Your prize: Big Bird with a paintbrush and pallette.

Okay, y’all still with me? Then wipe that tear from your eye and check out the amazing prize winning stories on the next page…

by Danny Horn

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