Fred Rogers, most known for his much-loved television program ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,’ which aired on PBS from 1968 to 2003, graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park in 1951 with a degree in music composition.
After graduation, he planned to enter the seminary and become a minister – until he saw his first children’s television show in his parent’s home in 1951. It was then that he had the epiphany that he could serve his mission of helping people in a completely new way – through television.
He soon became a household name known for his endearing personality, ability to tie his shoes with a smile, his friendly attitude and his general positive outlook on life. ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ showed the importance of being a kind person, a good neighbor, and taught children how to talk about difficult, but meaningful subjects. It was more than your average children’s television programming at the time. It was educational, impactful and entertaining.
Throughout his life, Rogers spent a lot of time in Winter Park. While at Rollins, Rogers developed his unique worldview and curated his positive attitude while studying on campus. Rollins is where he met his wife, Joanne Byrd, and together, the two continued to visit the campus often even after graduation. It was at Rollins that Rogers pursued his musical passion and talents, playing jazz and participating in the chapel choir.
Around Winter Park and the College, Rogers is still revered. The Winter Park Boat Tour script includes mention of the house on Osceola Avenue that Rogers and his wife would rent during winters after they became snowbirds in their later years. Rogers would work on scripts for the show, rekindle old friendships and make new ones in the same place that helped launch his career.
Although Rogers passed away in 2003, his impact within the community is impalpable. If you’d like to learn more about his lasting impact, join a Mister Rogers Walking Tour at Rollins.
Beginning on October 29, 2021, guests are invited to explore the neighborhood that shaped Mister Rogers on a free, self-guided walking tour of Rollins College, and find out how the college is keeping his legacy alive one of America’s most beautiful campuses.
Along the way, you’ll experience exclusive Mister Rogers memorabilia and artwork and get a feel for how Rollins College is educating the next generation of global citizens and responsible leaders.
The five stop self-guide tour includes:
- The Olin Library where you can see a rare collection of books, handwritten letters, photographs, a sweater knitted by Fred Rogers’ mother and a pair of his famous sneakers.
- The Life is for Service Plaque at Rollins College inspired Fred Roger’s as a Rollins College student, and it was a phrase he always kept close to his heart. He even carried a photo of the engraving in his wallet for the rest of his life.
- The Walk of Fame where a stone placed in Rogers’ honor in March 1991 can be found in front of Lyman Hall, his old residence hall. See if you can find it among the other internationally known honorees (hint: it’s between Beethoven and Edith Wharton). The stone is from his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
- The Tiedtke Concert Hall and Virginia S. and W.W. Nelson Department of Music where a large portrait of Mister Rogers hangs. If you’re lucky, you’ll enter the lobby when a music class is in session and get to observe the painting with live music in the background!
- The NEW “A Beautiful Day for a Neighbor” Sculpture created by renowned British Sculptor Paul Day. The sculpture will be open for public viewing starting October 29, 2021.This 360-degree outdoor sculpture stands over 7 feet tall and weighs more than 3,000 pounds.
For more information and to download a handy map to guide you on your journey, visit www.rollins.edu/mister-rogers/walking-tour.