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South Bend Cubs celebrate 50th anniversary of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The South Bend Cubs hosted Mister Rogers’ Day at Four Winds Field on Sunday honoring the 50th anniversary of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

The event also collaborated with WNIT, the area’s local PBS station.

Associate General Manager of WNIT, Steve Funk and the Cubs organization began planning the day at the ball park before the season started.  “Today celebrates the history of Mister Rogers. What PBS and the show has meant to our community and the nation.”

The South Bend Cubs sported jerseys that embodied  Fred Rogers’ iconic red sweater.

The proceeds of the auctioned jerseys benefit WNIT Public Television.  

Funk says events like this are essential to the station due to limited annual federal and state funding.  “70 percent of the dollars raised to run the PBS station are raised right here locally in south bend and the greater Michiana area,” he said.

Unlike any other station, programming for PBS is not commercial and purely curriculum based.

“A lot of people don’t know, but about 89% of the kids in this market don’t have access to preschool,” Funk explained.

Sunday at the Ball Park, grownups and kids alike honored the man who brought wonder and knowledge to their homes.

Six-year-old Gavin Johnson dressed like Mister Rogers for the ball game. “I really wanted to be Mr. Rogers because today is Mr. Rogers’ day,” he said smiling. He says that Daniel the Tiger is his favorite puppet from Mister Rogers, and he’s learned lessons from the show.  “He shows you different things.”

Educational children’s programming is a foundation for PBS. “Mister  Rogers and the lessons he brings to children have been central to that educational foundation,” Funk said.

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