Happy 40th to the Neighborhood!

I like to think I have a unique view of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood that many of you do not have. While Fred Rogers TV show is as much a part of Pittsburgh as Steeler football, I did not know that until I moved here.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was one of my favorite shows as a child. I loved the trolley and grew up watching human characters like Mr. McFeely and puppets like King Friday become part of my daily routine. When I was a tot living in other parts of the country, I never thought about where Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was produced. All I knew is that every afternoon my home became part of the neighborhood through the magic of TV.

While Pittsburgh holds the honor of being home to this unique series, it belongs to the entire world and every child over the past four decades feels as if Mr. Rogers is their neighbor. I think it’s when you grow up with the show outside of Western Pennsylvania, you truly appreciate the impact of the program.

Since arrivng here, I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rogers several times before his death. However no meeting will rival my first encounter with this gentle soul. It was an event at the Children’s Museum which I hosted in the late 90’s. It was to honor Fred Rogers and I must admit I was a little nervous meeting my childhood friend. When I went to introduce myself, Mr. Rogers not only said he knew who I was, but was a frequent viewer of channel 4.

Wow! Not only had a I met Fred Rogers, but he knew who I was! I called my parents as well as my friends who were not from Pittsburgh and told them all about it — and they were impressed. Not only impressed with the fact I had met Mr. Rogers, but also the show originated from my new home of Pittsburgh.
On the day he died, I was so sad. His infleunce on my life helped me to come up wtih an idea — and produced it for on-air that day — showing Mr. Rogers passion for sports. I found video of him skating at a Pens game, tossing out the first pitch at a Pirates game and .. of course .. his legendary episode with Steeler receiver Lynn Swann.

Let’s all celebrate on this 40th birthday of is creation! Mr. Rogers left us a lasting legacy of childhood lessons that many of us carry on into adulthood … and each day, we should ask others the question that he asked us each episode.

“Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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