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Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Once Was Here In Florida

Matthew Peddie, WMFE
A portrait of Mr. Rogers painted by Don Sondag hangs at the John M. Tiedtke Concert Hall, Rollins College. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

A Beautiful Day InThe Neighborhood," the Hollywood film based on the life of Mr. Rogers and starring Tom Hanks opens this weekend.

What many don't know is that before he created the beloved children’s program, Fred Rogers’ neighborhood was here in Florida - on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park.

Rogers majored in music at Rollins, and the college is where he met his wife.

The school is hosting a walking tour of its campus to coincide with the release of the movie celebrating its famous alumnus. 

Rollins Communications Manager Jo Marie Hebeler said the tour includes one of Rogers' iconic cardigans and a pair of shoes - which he donated for his 40th class reunion.

“He gifted us the sweater and the sneakers. And he wrote on the side of the sneakers that these were used to make a lot of episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood,” she said. “And he signed them, 'Fred Rogers' class of 51.'"

The free self-guided tour will be available at Rollins in downtown Winter Park through November 27, starting at the college’s Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Hours are: Tuesday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday Noon to 5 p.m. A virtual tour is also available HERE.

“The walking tour is our way of honoring the time that Fred Rogers spent on our campus as a student and the many ways he continues to influence the Rollins College community,” President Grant Cornwell said in a statement. “His messages of self-esteem, inclusiveness, and respect still resonate clearly in our community engagement endeavors and beyond.”

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