Mister Rogers Week of Kindness to honor Central Florida’s favorite neighbor

WINTER PARK, Fla. — Everyone’s favorite neighbor, who once called Central Florida home, is having a week of activities inspired by him and his dedication to kindness.


Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, which will include a week-long series of educational and public events inspired by nationally renowned children’s television host and American icon Fred Rogers, begins March 20, on what would have been Rogers’ 95th birthday.

Central Florida was a major part of Rogers’s life. In 1948, he transferred from Dartmouth College to Rollins College. There, he met the love of his life and future spouse, Sara Joanne Byrd, on the tarmac of what is now the Orlando Executive Airport.

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His sister Elaine and one his sons, John, attended Rollins. As did his nephew, Dan Crozier, who served on the school’s music faculty for many years, according to a news release.

Rogers and his wife returned to Winter Park annually. It’s there he used his time in Central Florida to write many of the scripts and original music used in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

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The free public events run from March 23-25:

March 23

Friends and colleagues of Fred and Joanne Rogers will share warm stories and favorite memories of the former Winter Park neighbors. Seating is “very limited” for the event, which begins at 2 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, 419 S. Interlachen Ave.

March 24

Mister Rogers’ Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving and Celebration will take place Friday at First Baptist Orlando, 3000 S. John Young Parkway, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 pm. Cast member and friend David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely in the show, will lead the discussion with Pastor Seth Kane of The Foundry. Breakfast is included courtesy of Panera Bread.

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From noon to 1:30 p.m., Newell will lead a lunch discussion at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, 151 W. Lyman Ave. Lunch will be courtesy of Chick-Fil-A.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., take a peek behind the scenes of some of the landmark episodes of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” along with a Q&A with show producer Margy Whitmer, Newell and Hedda Sharapan, senior fellow of The Fred Rogers Institute and Child Development Consultant of Fred Rogers Productions.

March 25

Meet Mr. McFeely himself, David Newell, during a meet and greet at Taste of Oviedo in the Orlando Mall parking lot from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Click here for more information.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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