WOODSTOCK, Conn. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Caroll Spinney told the New York Times that Thursday will be his last day on the program, which he joined from the start in 1969. In addition to Big Bird, the 84-year-old was also Oscar the Grouch.

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“I always thought, How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?” Spinney told the New York Times. “Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life.”

Spinney said the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult and he developed problems with his balance. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and now only provides the voices for him and Oscar.

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He told the New York Times he felt the child-like spirit in playing the role on Sesame Street.

“I’ve been playing a 6-year-old for 50 years,” Spinney said. “And the children bought it.”

His apprentice, Matt Vogel, will succeed him in the Big Bird role. He also plays Kermit the Frog.

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(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)