It’s time to say goodbye to Sesame Street‘s Maria.
It was announced at the American Library Association Annual Conference that Sonia Manzano would be leaving the children’s series. “After 45 years on Sesame Street, @SoniaMManzano will no longer appear on the next season,” American Libraries tweeted on Monday.
The actress-author’s turn as the lovable character—who ultimately became a wife, mother, and Fix-It Shop owner—earned her two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series. She also wrote for the program starting in 1981, and won a number of writing Emmy Awards.
“Sonia Manzano has announced her retirement from Sesame Street, but she will always be a part of the fabric of our neighborhood,” Sesame Workshop said in a statment. “During her 44-year career as the iconic ‘Maria,’ and the first leading Latina woman on television, she was a role model for young girls and women for generations. Sonia’s talents on Sesame Street extend beyond her groundbreaking role on camera; she also earned 15 Emmy Awards as a member of Sesame Street’s writing team. We’ll always be grateful for her many years on Sesame Street as a champion of diversity and helping millions of kids grow up smarter, stronger and kinder.”
Given Manzano’s extended time with Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar, and friends, it comes as no surprise that many others felt emotional about the news.
*This post has been updated with Sesame Workshop’s statement.