Rollins College in Florida has raised a statue of Mister Rogers, complete with puppets and adoring children. It’s a tribute to Fred Rogers, the beloved TV host who graduated from Rollins 70 years ago.
Rogers wears his iconic cardigan and sneakers in the larger-than-life bronze statue on the Orlando-area campus, smiling as he holds his Daniel Tiger puppet in the center of a throng of children.
The sculpture, “A Beautiful Day for a Neighbor,” was created by British artist Paul Day. It includes lyrics from the long-running series’ theme song, along with famous characters and the Trolley that connected Mister Rogers’ fictional house to the world of make-believe.
“My hope is that this piece will bring joy and inspiration to many people, just as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood did for generations,” Day said in a statement sent to NPR.
Fred McFeely Rogers graduated with distinction from Rollins in 1951, before going on to become a hero to children and an inspiration to parents.
“He met his future wife at Rollins, Sara Joanne Byrd Rogers, for whom the puppet character Queen Sara Saturday is named,” the college said.
The school hosted Rogers’ son, John, for a private unveiling ceremony Thursday.
“Very, very special — as Dad would say,” John Rogers said afterward.
A series of public events is slated for Friday.
Rogers majored in music composition. He was very active on campus, according to the school, which says he was “president of his fraternity, chairman of the Inter-Faith and Race Relations Committee, president of the French Club, [and] a member of the Chapel and Bach choirs. He also performed in several theatre productions and was an intramural swimmer.”