11 Neighborly Facts About the Mister Rogers Christmas Special

What do Jason Voorhees and Happy Gilmore have in common? They're both one step removed from the seldom-seen 1977 holiday special, "Christmastime with Mister Rogers." Here are 11 quirky facts about this obscure Neighborhood gem.

1. Fred Rogers took a break from a break to make this special.

After almost a decade on nationally-televised public television, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood went on a two year hiatus in the late 1970s. With the exception of this holiday special, no new episodes ofMister Rogers' Neighborhood aired in 1977 or 1978.

2. It's apparently a mild winter in the Neighborhood.

Unlike most holiday specials, there is no snow in the neighborhood during this show. In fact, it is warm enough for Francois Clemmons to sit outside enjoying a cold beverage during the opening segment.

3. Happy Gilmore's grandma is Mister Rogers' neighbor.

The part of Franny Hamilton is played by Frances Bay, who is known for her roles as Fonzie's grandmother on Happy Days, Happy's grandmother in Happy Gilmore, and the lady with the dog at Daniel LaRusso's apartment building in The Karate Kid.

4. The children's choir is just okay.

Francois Clemmons leads a choir of children with a name that indicates either a dry sense of humor or mediocre talent.

5. There may have been some foreshadowing in the Neighborhood.

One of the main characters in "Christmastime with Mister Rogers" is the "Music Man," a magical musician played by Stanley Clay. Thirty-five years later, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood would premiere featuring Music Man Stan—the husband of Lady Elaine Fairchilde. A strange coincidence or a subtle nod to the original Neighborhood?

6. Slopperydozafanoondapuck

Gifts are not allowed to be opened in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe until King Friday XIII says "the word." The word for this holiday season is "Slopperydozafanoondapuck" which (according to King Friday) means "what a difference one person can make."

7. This special was not just about Christmas.

Mister Rogers spends time talking about different families' traditions—Christmas, Chanukah, and those who celebrate neither. The Neighborhood Trolley is decorated with a banner that reads "Merry Christmas" on one side and "Happy Chanukah" on the other. At one point, Mister Rogers plays with a dreidel as he sings the Dreidel Song.

8. Jason Voorhees is barely removed from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Included in the credits for "Christmastime with Mister Rogers" are scenic designer Kathleen Ankers (known for her television work including Late Night with David Letterman and ESPN's SportsCenter) and make-up artist Tom Savini (known for his extensive involvement with many popular horror films such as Friday the 13th and Creepshow).

9. The Neighborhood is not immune to filming goofs.

After three young friends stop by to share a Christmas carol, Mister Rogers walks away from the window. Outside the window, a studio microphone can be seen moving from the picture.

10. King Friday XIII receives an appropriate gift from his wife.

Known for unnecessarily using his extensive kingly vocabulary, King Friday XIII is presented with a "word holder" box—a long box which appropriately makes it a "long word holder." The perfect size for King Friday's voluminous erudition when it comes to etymology.

11. Mister Rogers' holiday message is simple and clear.

"I've been thinking about what I'd like to give you for Christmas. I'd really like to give you something that just fits your own wishes and needs the way these shoes just fit me. I suppose the thing I'd like most to be able to give you is hope. Hope that through your own doing and your own living with others, you'll be able to find what best fits for you in this life...I, for one, wish you good memories of this holiday. And I hope you'll be able to look for all the different ways that people have of showing that they love you."

Happy holidays, neighbors.

For a full summary of "Christmastime with Mister Rogers", visit the Neighborhood Archive. All images are property of the Fred Rogers Company.

From Our YouTube Series...

From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State

There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]


More from mental floss studios