BELOVED children’s show personality, Fred Rogers, is remembered each year on May 23, otherwise known as 143 Day.
Rogers’ show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, aired in 1968 and impacted generations of young viewers.
What is 143 Day?
The holiday, 143 Day, was first celebrated in Fred Rogers‘ home state of Pennsylvania in 2019 to honor the late television personality.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was on the air for 33 years, and during that time, Rogers coined the expression 143 Day, with each number standing for how many letters are in each word of I love you.
The date occurred on the 143rd day of the year in which Rogers would tell his viewers to show their love for one another and help out in small and positive ways.
Studies have shown that people are more inclined to participate in awareness activities when one day is dedicated to it, Time Magazine reported.
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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released a statement on May 23 to acknowledge the good deads that Rogers brought to their state and said the community should strive for that level of care.
Wolf said, “The past three years, Pennsylvanians have shown that kindness is part of their very core, we have continued to carry out the legacy of Fred Rogers through simple good deeds and kind words to our neighbors, friends, family, teachers, first responders, and strangers.”
Rogers once said in an episode talking about 143 Day, “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered … just one kind word to another person.”
Who was Fred Rogers?
Rogers was known for his empathetic, kind, and caring nature as he started each show of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with his trademark song as he entered his home and exchanged one sweater for another.
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He sang “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” as he changed out of his shoes and greeted his young viewers.
Rogers impacted generations of children from the 1960s through the 1990s and filmed his last episode in December 2000.
His biographer Maxwell King told Time that Rogers would wake up at 5am every day before getting ready for his show to hone in on what he could do for others that day.
“He would read the Bible, pray for other people, and then he would think about the coming day,” King said.
“He would spend that time envisioning who he was going to see and how he would be fully engaged and thoughtful and considerate and kind with whomever he encountered.”
The show went off the air in 2001 and Rogers passed away two years later on February 27, only one month before his 75th birthday.
Why did 143 Day become a statewide holiday in Pennsylvania?
In memory of Fred Rogers’ legacy, Wolf designated May 23 as 143 Day in Pennsylvania.
He shared the proclamation in 2019 in a post on Twitter and said, “I’ve proclaimed today to be 1-4-3 Day, Pennsylvania’s first statewide day of kindness.”
He added, “As governor, I’ve met countless Pennsylvanians. And I know we’re genuinely nice people. Join me in spreading love today and seeing just how far a little kindness can go.”
Wolf’s post included a clip of Rogers explaining 143 Day to his delivery man, Mr. McFeely, in one episode saying it was a “code.”
“Explaining things is another way of saying ‘I love you.’ And coming back to visit each day is yet another way,” Rogers said after escorting Mr. McFeely to the door.
“Oh there’s so many ways. … You’ll find them as you grow. Many ways to say 1-4-3.”