Fred Rogers display update coincides with Unity center’s anniversary
Those who stop at the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce’s The Neighborhood Visitor and Information Center on Route 30 in Unity will notice that a display dedicated to children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers no longer includes one of the trademark red zippered sweaters he wore on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
In an update of the exhibit, to be unveiled during the center’s second anniversary celebration Thursday, the red sweater has been switched out with a purple version — one of various colors of the iconic garment the late Rogers wore during his show’s 1968-2001 run.
Rogers’ favorite color was yellow, said Emily Uhrin, archivist at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at nearby St. Vincent College. But, “Fred was colorblind,” she said, explaining he relied on the placement of sweaters in his TV set’s closet to help differentiate them. The sweater is one of several artifacts from the archive’s 16,000-item collection that will be on view in the revamped visitor center, some on public display for the first time.
“Fred saved so much material from his career and also from his childhood,” Uhrin said. “Early on, he understood the importance of documenting everything.”
Allen J. Martello, the chamber’s director of marketing and events, said the anniversary milestone seemed an appropriate occasion for enhancing the Rogers display to emphasize Rogers’ Latrobe roots and illustrate the importance of the Fred Rogers Center and its archive. “We felt it was an opportunity to showcase what they’re doing,” he said.
Two of the exhibit additions have come full circle — a community service award Rogers received individually in 1995 and one his family received in 1959 for supporting development of Latrobe’s Rogers-McFeely Memorial Swimming Pool.
Uhrin said the updated display touches on other facets of Rogers’ life: His television show, represented by “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” an album of songs he wrote and performed on the show, accompanied by guitarist Joe Negri; and “Mister Rogers Talks About,” one of the books he published addressing children’s concerns.
The chamber will hold its monthly Business After Hours networking event at 5:05 p.m. March 8 at the Fred Rogers Center. RSVP to the chamber at 724-537-2671.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].