To celebrate local icon and famed children's television host Fred Rogers, a Pittsburgh hospital dressed newborn babies in Mister Rogers-style cardigans and tiny blue ties. The babies' costumes serve to mark both World Kindness Day and Cardigan Day, an unofficial holiday created by the studio that produced Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. And with their tiny red cardigans and cut-out "ties," these babies are so adorable you'll want to ask them, "won't you be my neighbor?"
"Today is World Kindness Day, and in Pittsburgh we are also celebrating Cardigan Day, in honor of Pittsburgher Fred Rogers, who modeled kindness and compassion to children in his long-running show Mister Rogers Neighborhood — often while wearing a red cardigan and tie," Stephanie Waite, a spokesperson for Allegheny Health Network (AHN), tells Romper. "At AHN, we wanted to join in the spirit of kindness with our most adorable ambassadors, our newborn babies."
To mark the day, the health system gifted a number of babies recently born at an AHN hospital in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, tiny, red cardigan sweaters. (Fans of Mister Rogers Neighborhood may remember the television host's fondness for a good cardigan.) Each babies' "outfit" was completed with a mock, cut out tie, another staple of Rogers' wardrobe.
Earlier this week, WQED, the producing studio behind Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, asked fans to celebrate both World Kindness Day and 50 years of America’s favorite neighbor by wearing a cardigan sweater a la Rogers. "Wednesday is World Kindness Day, and WQED is encouraging YOU to express your kindness by wearing a cardigan sweater in the spirit of Fred Rogers," the studio tweeted Sunday. "Happy #CardiganDay!"
After helping to found WQED in 1953, Rogers, a puppeteer and organist, revolutionized children's educational television with shows like The Children's Corner before launching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in 1966. WQED credits Rogers with using Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which aired for more than 30 years, to spread a "message of understanding and kindness to children" and create "a neighborhood where everyone was free to learn and listen and share, and most of all, be themselves." A few months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, Rogers died at age 74 in 2003, according to The New York Times.
In an effort to take their celebration of Rogers' legacy of kindness beyond the hospital corridors, AHN shared photos of Pittsburg's newest residents dresses as mini Mr. Rogers on social media. "It's a beautiful day in the AHN neighborhood!" the health system wrote in a recent Facebook. "These #AHNBabies may be new to this neighborhood but they’re already honoring everyone's favorite neighbor on #CardiganDay."
While this is the first time AHN has paid tribute to Rogers, it's not the first time the health system has helped newborns get into the celebratory spirit. "We do these dress-ups a few times a year, for holidays and other special occasions," Waite tells Romper, adding that the babies' parents are always gifted a photo of their newborn in costume along with the costume itself to treasure as a keepsake.
"We always get such a positive reaction to the photos," Waite says. "The babies are so adorable. It puts a guaranteed smile on everyone's face!"