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'1-4-3 Day': Pennsylvanians celebrate kindness in honor of Mister Rogers and his favorite number

fred rogers, 1-4-3 day, mister rogers' neighborhood

Fred Rogers and King Friday.

The number 143 was very special to Fred Rogers. To the star of “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,” it meant, I love you. “It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three,” he was fond of saying.

He even tried to maintain the weight of 143 pounds by swimming every day at a pool in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Three years ago, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared May 23, the 143rd day of the year, to be 1-4-3 Day in the state, celebrating Rogers’ commitment to kindness. “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person,” Rogers once mused.

Rogers grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and his television show was produced at WQED Pittsburgh.

The governor’s office recommends that the state’s residents celebrate in three ways:

  1. Embrace the spirit of the kindest Pennsylvanian, Fred Rogers
  2. Do something kind for your neighbors
  3. Spread the love by using hashtag #143DayInPA

via State of Pennsylvania

In its third year, the holiday seems to be catching on, especially in Pennsylvania schools, where one class celebrated by wearing cardigan sweaters, just like Mister Rogers did. It was also celebrated by incarcerated individuals at SCI Laurel Highlands, who raised over $7,000 for Cambria County Children and Youth Services.

Here's how other people celebrated throughout the state on May 23, 2022.

Fred Rogers is one of the most admired Americans of the past century and his message of kindness is sorely needed now more than ever. That’s why some are advocating for making 1-4-3 Day a national holiday so that Rogers’ values will be celebrated in communities across the country.

Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski, co-authors of “When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids,” made a compelling case for 1-4-3 Day becoming a national holiday in Time.

A recent study by Pew Research shows that Americans believe we could use a lot more neighborliness, too.

At a time when Americans' trust in each other and its institutions is waning, 86% of us still believe it can be rebuilt with greater community cooperation. Who better to inspire us to reach that goal than America’s favorite neighbor, Mister Rogers?

While many of us look at Washington for solutions to our country’s problems, so much could be fixed if we simply took action in our local communities. A 79-year-old woman polled by Pew offered a simple but powerful solution to the country’s problems. “Seek common ground that engages as many as possible in the community and organize around a project that addresses that common concern,” she said.

“Mister Rogers' Neighborhood” first aired nationally on PBS in 1968 and just about every child born since was taught about simple human kindness by Fred Rogers. Sadly, some of us have forgotten that lesson as we’ve grown older, so a national 1-4-3 holiday would be a perfect way for every American to reflect on those important values and to recommit to being the neighbors that Mister Rogers taught us to be.


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