March 19th, 2008

dr. katz

Wear a sweater on Thursday - be a good neighbor

In honor of what would have been Mister Rogers' 80th birthday on March 20, Mr. McFeely -- aka David Newell, the public relations director for Family Communications, Inc. (the nonprofit company founded in 1971 by Fred Rogers) -- has a special request.
"We're asking everyone (including members of the media) everywhere (from Pittsburgh to Paris) to wear their favorite sweater on that day," he asks. "It doesn't have to have a zipper down the front like the one Mister Rogers wore on the program, it just has to be special to you."
Sweater Day is part of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary celebration and the first-ever "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Days March 15 -- 20.
"We wanted to recognize Fred in a way that would reflect his deep appreciation of what it means to be a caring neighbor," explains FCI's Margy Whitmer.
As a result, "'Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Days was born as a means of promoting neighborliness throughout Fred Rogers' own backyard -- Southwestern Pennsylvania region.
Throughout WYBMND more than 30 organizations have signed up to participate.
For more information about Sweater Day and "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Days visit
This project supported in part by Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections and The Sprout Fund."

For as much as I and many others enjoyed making jokes about his mellow nature, we are a lesser society in the loss of Mister Rogers. Like Bob Keeshan, he understood the reach and influence of TV, and used it to give a calm and comforting place for children, to tell them they were significant and had a purpose and to look out upon the world with open minds and hearts. There was not an ounce of hypocrisy in him - he walked what he talked, and his prime directive was love.

I don't care if it's 100 degrees Thursday afternoon - I'm wearing my sweater with pride.