Fred Rogers filmed the first episode 51 years ago, today
If you grew up on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, odds are you feel all of the feelings when it comes to him. He was like a family member you got to watch every single day, and someone you came to depend on to lift your spirits. So, when Google released their Doodle of the day as a video homage to Rogers, the internet was understandably weepy. And by weepy I mean ugly crying in our closets.
Though the first episode of his show didn’t officially air until February, 1968, it was taped on September 21, 1967 — and any reason to share our favorite memories of the series and its beloved star is a good day. Google released the Doodle, saying, “For 31 seasons & 912 episodes, #MisterRogers invited us to be his neighbor. Today, we celebrate his positive impact & all that he was: a creator, musician, philosopher, storyteller – but most importantly, a friend.”
You really have to watch it to feel the impact:
The initial Doodle on the screen is a still of stop-motion animation of kids gathered around the TV, watching Rogers with the neighborhood trolley in the background. And if that’s not tear-invoking enough, when you press play on the animation it takes you to a video featuring Rogers’ voice, with the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” song playing in the background.
Google had this to say about the creation of the Doodle: “Set to the iconic opening song of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor”), the Doodle aims to be a reminder of the nurturing, caring, and whimsy that made the show feel like a “television visit” between Mister Rogers and his young viewers. Everyone was welcome in this Neighborhood. Through his honest words, thoughtful songs, and imaginative Neighborhood of Make-Believe stories, Mister Rogers took us by the hand, helping us feel good about who we are. He encouraged us to find positive ways to deal with our feelings, to treat others with respect and kindness, and to appreciate the world around us.”
The final episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired on August 21, 2001 and was a mainstay in millions of people’s homes for generations. Rogers was the epitome of all things good and kind in this world, something we could all use a reminder of these days.
It seems Twitter agrees:
“I’m so thrilled that Google is celebrating Fred and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with this charming tribute,” says Rogers’ wife, Joanne, in a statement. “This stroll through the Neighborhood is delightful, and Fred’s gentle kindness is beautifully captured in the Doodle.”
Rogers’ preached love and forgiveness and kindness. He was inclusive and always reminded us that who we are is exactly who we should be. He closed almost every episode with, “You make each day a special day. You know how? By just your being you. There’s only one person in this whole world like you. And people can like you exactly as you are.” He kept people captivated, sharing positive messages with the world until his death in 2003.
And now you’ll excuse me while I sob into my pillow for the rest of the day.
And if you want to introduce your kids to all that was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the original episodes are available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and on PBSkids.org for streaming. Make sure to stock up on tissues before you binge-watch.