Won’t you be my neighbor?

Violet Van Fleet ‘21, Feature Editor

In light of the upcoming film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, many have taken time to remember the legend Fred McFeely Rogers, also known as the friendly host of the television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The childhood favorite tragically died in 2003 after losing his three-month battle with stomach cancer, immortalizing him in the fractures of our hearts. Since then, multiple documentaries have been released in his honor, giving credit to this influential figure that strolled through the Land of Make Believe with an understanding smile on his face. 

For those old enough to remember him, Mister Rogers was an undisturbed well of purity and light. Accompanied by velvet puppets and a snappy red cardigan, this Presbyterian minister paved the way for kindness even before the Public Broadcasting Service came into existence. He slipped on his sneakers before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. He filled our childhood with soft-spoken words of encouragement and mutual respect, leaving a nostalgic tinge to our core values. One such impacted individual, junior Valerie Nielsen, said, “[Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood] was really fun and it helped teach certain values that influenced how I acted in my childhood.”

In the staggering 33 years that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was on the air, it produced 912 heartfelt episodes. Each one of them was spent teaching children that they are intelligent and deserve to be treated as such.   Junior Kara Ziolkowski said, “[Mister Rogers] made me not as shy about being out there.” The youth of yesteryear watched in awe as they learned about caring for others and life lessons that would serve them for the rest of their lives. Even in death, Mister Rogers continues to spread positivity and love in this otherwise bleak world. 

And now, sixteen years after his passing, we take a closer look at the man behind the screen. Based on a true story, the movie follows Mister Rogers as he interacts with the cynical Esquire journalist Lloyd Vogel, who is tasked with profiling the beloved icon. As Vogel meets with Mister Rogers, he begins to question his perspective on life. Modeled after the article “Can You Say… Hero?”, this heartwarming tale reminds us that we are all children at heart. Set to be released on Nov. 22, the film will leave audiences around the country embracing the icon once again, asking, “Won’t you be his neighbor?”

Photo courtesy of fredrogers.org

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