By Jacob Rzempoluch, Part-Time Staff Writer
Fred Rogers, known to millions of Americans as Mister Rogers, began every episode of his massively popular Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with a song titled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Mister Rogers used this song to welcome his young viewers into his world on the television. The iconic song provided a perfect name to a community program series about Fred Rogers organized by the Fred Rogers Center.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Again” is a two part series created in collaboration with the Latrobe Art Center. The goal of the collaboration is to increase awareness of Fred Rogers’ legacy and how his upbringing in Latrobe impacted him, while allowing Fred Rogers Scholars to dive into the Center’s archives.
“Most people in this area know Fred Rogers as Mister Rogers from the television show, but I have come to understand that much fewer people know him outside of his show,” Sarah O’Callaghan, Program Associate at the Fred Rogers Center, said. “It is often surprising for people to discover that the Mister Rogers on the show was not an act or a crafted persona; that was who Fred Rogers was outside of the show as well.”
In order to present a side to Mister Rogers that may be unknown to locals, two exhibits were created. The first, “The Boy and the Neighborhood: The History of Fred Rogers and the Town of Latrobe,” ran from Feb. 19 to Mar. 19 and focused on Fred’s childhood. Newspaper
clippings from the archives were displayed, as well as information about the puppets seen in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
The second exhibit, “Arts in the Neighborhood and the Natural World,” will open on Apr. 23 with an opening event from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. This exhibit will focus on the arts and themes present in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and will run until May 21.
Bret Bowling, senior marketing major, is one of the Fred Rogers Scholars who helped curate the exhibits.
“It was so intriguing to read documents and learn more about Fred and his family with each piece I read,” Bowling said.
Bowling believes that the Fred Rogers Scholars Program has had a positive impact on his time as Saint Vincent.
“There is truly a family feeling between all of the scholars and the faculty that are there to support us in anything we need,” Bowling said.
A closing event for the partnership will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on May 21, the 143rd day of the year. This day was specifically chosen for Fred Rogers’ code of “I love you,” which counts the number of letters in each word.
The Latrobe Art Center is open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.