07/02/2015 12:27 EDT

Sesame Street's Maria To Retire After 45 Years

"Come and play. Everything's A-OK. Friendly neighbours there. That's where we meet..." Sadly, one of "Sesame Street"'s friendly and beloved neighbours is leaving. After almost 45 years on the show, Sonia Manzano, better known as Fix-It Shop owner Maria, is retiring.

She made the announcement during the annual American Library Association conference, which was held in San Francisco.

Many reached out to Manzano on social media to express their sadness, gratitude and well-wishes:

Manzano first appeared on the children's show in 1971 and became a regular in 1974. When she moved into the neighbourhood, Manzano portrayed Maria as a teenager.

According to her official bio on the show's website:

Viewers have watched Maria grow up. She was a first crush, a best friend and a baby sitter, telling stories and making everyone laugh. She dated and then married Luis, and they later had a daughter, Gabi, who is now grown up. Maria and Luis own and run the Fix-It Shop, specializing in toaster repair.

The 65-year-old Puerto Rican actress was also one of the show's writers. She incorporated parts of her own life into her character. When she became pregnant, it was also part of the show. In one episode, she even nursed her daughter and explained breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

Manzano earned 15 Emmys as writer and was nominated twice for her role as a performer.

Her more recent work includes appearing onstage in "The Vagina Monologues." She also plays Judge Gloria Pepitone on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

In addition to acting, Manzano is the author of two children's books ("No Dogs Allowed!" and "A Box Full of Kittens"), and last year published the young adult novel "The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano." Her memoir, "Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx," will be published later this summer.

She may be leaving the block, but Manzano has hinted at returning for "Sesame Street"'s 50th anniversary.

We hope so. It's going to be a long four years. We'll miss you Maria.

With files from the Huffington Post.

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