The Pennsylvania Tourism Office on Friday unveiled a three-day road trip that memorializes the places most associated with Fred Rogers, the famed Presbyterian minister and children’s TV host.
The Fred Rogers Trail commemorates the 50th anniversary of the classic PBS show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and could bring tourism to the communities where he lived and worked.
“He used stories, analogies and songs to connect with millions of us. He made connections that span generations, all the while using Pennsylvania as his neighborhood,” said Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
The announcement was made from the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College.
The trail features 15 destinations in four counties, covering everything from Latrobe, Rogers’ hometown, to Pittsburgh, where Rogers filmed his show on WQED.
“Our goal today is to make sure that visitors see Latrobe and Pittsburgh, but also to make sure they don’t miss the lesser-known spots that have a connection to one of our favorite sons who touched the world with his words and actions,” Davin said.
Some of those lesser-known spots include Buttermilk Falls Natural Area in Indiana County, where the young Rogers and his family would go on retreat; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, which owns the life-size trolley used on the episode “Grandparents”; and Rogers’ burial place at Unity Cemetery.
The stops on the Fred Rogers Trail were selected by the tourism office in cooperation with Fred Rogers Productions, the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and VisitPittsburgh.
“There is incredible interest in all things Fred Rogers, as multiple generations are rediscovering the timeless message that he had for children and families,” said Paul Siefken, president and CEO of Fred Rogers Productions. “So this really is a perfect time to unveil this trail.”
Siefken said everyone from Rogers devotees to tourists will be able to use the trail to literally follow in Rogers’ footsteps.
“Each stop on the trail is respectfully selected for its relevance to Fred Rogers to make you feel like you’re visiting Fred’s own neighborhood,” Davin said.
Organizers of the trail said they hope it becomes a springboard for community action.
“As you walk through this trail and experience all these communities, please think about ways to carry forth his message,” said Karen Struble Myers, director of development at the Fred Rogers Center.
For more information, go to visitPA.com/fredrogers.