PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fred Rogers entered his “house” in a raincoat, when Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on public television in 1968.
That would change in the 33 years that the beloved children’s program was produced at WQED-TV in Pittsburgh. About 100 items from those shows now have a new neighborhood at Heinz History Center. For more information, visit the History Center’s website here.
“These things are iconic,” says History Center president Andy Masich.
He says it’s the world’s largest display of original items from the show.
“These original set pieces from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood have been in storage in warehouses, on loading docks, tucked in the hallways at WQED. And our conservators here at the History Center have gone over them, literally, with Q-Tips and toothbrushes, to clean them and repair them so they’ll last for another generation.”
Bill Isler, president of the Fred Rogers Company, says his friend’s legacy lives on.
“People are still interested in his work, and the neighborhood, and the messages he had for children, and for all of us,” said Masich. “And it’s really gratifying to see that a place in Pittsburgh, the History Center, has put this exhibit together. It is a long standing exhibit. And there will be more pieces available.”
The neighborhood trolley. The tricycle that helped Mr. McFeely make “speedy deliveries.” The tree of “X the Owl.” And the History Center has added a life-like figure of Fred Rogers himself, wearing one of the many sweaters that his mother made for him.
They even have the famous castle of King Friday the Thirteenth. What is less known is that his father was King Thursday the Twelfth.
Jen Riegler, her husband, and two young daughters are the first to sample the exhibit.
“This one’s definitely into Daniel Tiger,” she says of her toddler.
As for her 6-year-old, she says, “This one likes that we do a lot of streaming of regular shows.”
Both parents say they also grew up watching Fred Rogers, in a Neighborhood that spans generations.