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Editorial: Welcome to our neighborhoods, Tom Hanks

September 23, 2018

Picking up a cup of coffee at a ubiquitous coffee shop. It can’t get more mundane, right?

And that’s where it appears some people ran into Tom Hanks.

Sure, it makes sense. The Academy Award-winner is about to don the shoes (and sweater) of famous Pittsburgher and Latrobe native Fred Rogers, asking the world to be his neighbor. He would want to make sure he got a chance to get to know the area.

It would be great if what he realizes is how much Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Westmoreland County and the whole region are really a picture made up of dots, like pixels in a digital snapshot. But each of those pixels isn’t a dot of color. It’s a neighborhood much like Rogers’ fictional Make-Believe.

They are as homey as Daniel Striped Tiger’s clock, as colorful as Lady Elaine’s Museum-Go-Round, as grand as King Friday’s castle, as simple as X the Owl’s tree.

Like Henrietta Pussycat and Queen Sara Saturday, their voices may be remarkably similar but their personalities are all their own. They bond over shared loves, like Kennywood and the Steelers, Isaly’s ham and thumbprint cookies, but they are just as fiercely proud of the area outside their own front door.

Ask where to find the best pizza, the best bakery and the answer is likely to be about the best in that neighborhood, and the best is probably the one that’s been there the longest. Find an Italian restaurant with silk flowers that saw their best days in the 1960s? That’s a place to try the stuffed hot peppers and a bowl of wedding soup.

What we hope is that, like the real Mr. Rogers, Hanks would be able to appreciate what the neighborhoods have to offer, while speaking to each of them with genuine respect and ultimately coming to love the whole area.

Because it would be a very good feeling to think that you’ll come back some day, Mr. Hanks. We’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.

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