Mister Rogers’ Legacy Marked With Sweet Tribute

Mister Rogers | PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was honored today with a heartwarming tribute to the beloved children’s show on Google. The tribute acknowledges the first taping on the show’s 51st anniversary. Plus features the iconic theme song I Like You As You Are, which Fred Rogers sang at the beginning of every show.

Although the show was taped on September 21, 1967, the first episode didn’t air until February 19, 1968, according to Newsweek. During that episode and beyond, children learned about kindness and love, while the camera panned over the fictitious town as Rogers sang.

Google’s tribute stays true to Rogers’ message

Like the first episode, the stop-motion doodle tribute video opens like the original show. The camera pans over a neighborhood but the video follows the famous red trolley down the street. In the original show, Rogers greeted his audience by walking through the front door of his television home. Google features Mister Rogers playfully hopping off the trolley to wave at a child.

Google captures Fred Rogers’s zeal for life as he grabs an oversized crayon and strolls down the street. Also effectively punctuated in the tribute video is a message of inclusion, a topic very important to Fred Rogers. The video depicts children from a variety of backgrounds. Also packed into the one and a half minute tribute are some of the show’s most beloved characters. This includes Henrietta Pussycat and King Friday XIII and Queen Sara Saturday.

In addition to the infamous opening song, Google’s version of Fred Rogers also manages to include a message. He tells kids they are special and unique.

A recent documentary reinvigorated interest

Mister Rogers speaks with an audience member.

The September tribute follows the release of a highly acclaimed documentary about the children’s host called, Won’t You be my Neighbor. Critics and viewers found the film to be a breath of fresh air during a time when distrust and animosity seemed to prevail amongst neighbors. The film reminded viewers that Fred Rogers’ message was often a beacon for children during uncertain or scary times.

Director Morgan Neville said he wanted to make a film about Fred Rogers’ ideas rather than just his story, CNN reports. The concept of kindness seemed to resonate with summer moviegoers as the film grossed $8 million in under a month, reaching the top 10, even though it ran in limited release, USA Today reports.

Perhaps the documentary was just what the country needed during a time when decisive negativity prevailed on the news. “At a time when headline news features predominately doom and gloom, these documentaries have reminded audiences about the power of virtue and high-minded principles,” Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations said to USA Today. “These films trump the negativity of daily politics and point to a brighter future, something many people need right now.”

Rogers’ message continues to reach children

Fred Rogers sits on a bench on set taking off his shoes

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood | PBS

Rogers’ message of love is not lost on the current generation, although the PBS show ended in 2001, NPR reports. The generation who grew up watching the show share their memories during tough times. After the Sandy Hook shooting (and subsequent tragedies), some viewers recalled Rogers’ comforting words: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”

PBS keeps Rogers’ message alive in animated series, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, based on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Daniel’s message is similar to Rogers’ goal of treating children with kindness and respect. Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, explained Rogers’ understanding.

“[Rogers] that little kids live in the world,” Thompson told NPR. “And while you try to protect them from danger and fear and all the rest, they’re still living in a world where there’s a lot happening,” Thompson says. “He had this idea that you didn’t condescend to the very young and that you could explain things to them.”

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