Welcome to the Neighborhood
March 17, 2008, USA Today
For years, Fred Rogers taped his Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood public television program in Pittsburgh, and this week, the City of Bridges is celebrating “Won’t You Be My Neighbor Days.”
Travelers can join the festivities by visiting the Mr. Rogers exhibit at Pittsburgh International Airport. Located in Concourse C by Gate 51, the exhibit includes one of the star’s signature sweaters, a pair of his sneakers and several puppets and figurines from the Neighborhood of Make Believe, including King Friday, Queen Sara, Prince Tuesday, Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl.
Fred Rogers, who died of cancer in 2003, would have turned 80 on Thursday, which is also the last day of the festival. This year, his birthday is being promoted as “Sweater Day,” with event organizers urging everyone to wear a cardigan to honor Mr. Rogers.
…huh? What? Oh, sorry. I feel asleep after reading “Won’t You Be My Neighbor Days”.
Don’t get me wrong; Fred Rogers seemed like a very nice man, in a dry wheat toast sort of way. And, believe me, we need some wheat toast from time to time in this quick bread and pumpernickle world. (What? I don’t even understand what I just wrote.) But Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood was a boring place to visit as a child and remains a boring place as an adult. I remember sitting thisclose to the tv screen as a young, emotionally fragile young girl, eating a big bowl of King Vitamin thinking, “What the heck is wrong with Lady Aberline? Doesn’t she know she’s talking to hand puppets?” And what was up with Bob the Dog? A man in a dog suit? That’s some freaky-ass stuff right there.
My memories of Pittsburgh include dive bars, Primanti Brothers sandwiches, riding the Jackrabbit at Kennywood Amusement park, the Incline ‘elevator’, and dates with some really cute football player guy who never laid a hand on me. (The nerve!). I neither knew — nor would I have cared — that Mr. Rogers was in the same city. I was there to drink and eat greasy giant sandwiches.
Sorry for the sidetrack (the blonde football guy and all…). Let me come back to my original thought. The museum is inside the airport terminal, which means you need to go through security and have a ticket. So how do the “Sweater Day” organizers plan to promote a “festival” and encourage people to wear sweaters? They’re going to tell people to fly that day just so they can wear a cardigan and party with Pittsburgh’s most boring? It makes absolutely zero sense to me.
I did like X the Owl, though. He was a full-on rebel. I want to party with that guy.