LAUREL HIGHLANDS, PA., (July 2, 2018) – Fifty years ago, the world of children’s television programming changed forever as a humble, thoughtful and patient man from Latrobe, Pa., introduced the world to Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make Believe.
Last Friday, the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, Visit PA and Visit Pittsburgh unveiled the new Fred Rogers Trail, a visitor experience showcasing the neighborhood that inspired a TV pioneer and legend. This three-day road trip starts in Rogers’ hometown of Latrobe, which was recently featured in Smithsonian Magazine’s The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018, and ends in Pittsburgh, where Rogers filmed his show. Each stop will take travelers along the pathway of Rogers’ life, from his childhood through adulthood, and includes visits to see key artifacts, including set pieces from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
The first day of the Fred Rogers Trail highlights eight locations in the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.
Idlewild & Soak Zone
2574 U.S. Route 30, Ligonier, PA 15658
Spend an adventurous day at Idlewild & SoakZone, recognized as the “Best Children’s Park in the World” by Amusement Today. The original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe attraction operated in the park from 1989 through 2013. After the 2013 season, it was closed and replaced by the current Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood ride, where Daniel and friends create smiles for a whole new generation of children. The new ride uses the same trolley, tracks, and some of the sets as the original ride, giving Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fans a bit of nostalgia.
Did you know that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the first television series inspired by the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? The animated show features the son of the original program's Daniel Striped Tiger!
Experience the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where Daniel Tiger invites you to take a trolley ride through Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Next, explore the park’s collection of vintage children’s rides and the beloved StoryBook Forest, then enjoy the beautiful scenery of the magnificent Laurel Highlands from atop the classic Ferris Wheel.
Bonus tip: On your way from Idlewild to Latrobe on Route 30, keep an eye out for an overhead bridge with a familiar quote – “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College
300 Fraser Purchase Rd., Latrobe, PA 15650
The Fred Rogers Exhibit, a public, interactive display situated on the upper level of the Fred M. Rogers Center building at Saint Vincent College. Here, trace the life, work, and influence of Fred Rogers, beginning with his hometown roots in Latrobe and continuing through the mission and vision for his pioneering legacy in children's media.
The exhibit includes many iconic artifacts from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, including the Neighborhood Trolley, puppets from the show, Daniel Tiger’s clock, and Rogers’ iconic sweaters and sneakers. You’ll find a “Speedy Delivery” letter-writing station, informative wall panels, and four video screens playing programs about or featuring Rogers. The exhibit is only open to the public Monday through Friday, so plan your road trip accordingly.
Worthy detour: Before you leave, take a quick stroll across campus to the St. Vincent Basilica and Archabbey— the oldest Benedictine monastery in the United States and the largest in the Western Hemisphere — for a beautiful example of monastic architecture and incredible views. If you time your visit just right, you can even be on-campus during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ summer training camp!
Greater Latrobe High School
131 High School Road, Latrobe, PA 15650
Turn back the time to Fred Rogers’ own upbringing. Long before Mister Rogers brought children into his television make-believe neighborhood, he was born in his grandparents’ home — 705 Main St., the home of Fred B. and Nancy McFeely — in Latrobe. He was raised by his parents, James H. and Nancy McFeely Rogers, at 737 Weldon St. Rogers graduated in 1946 from Latrobe High School where he was the yearbook editor; served as president of the student council and roamed the halls with Arnold Palmer (Class of 1947), who would become a legendary professional golfer.
The building at 1501 Ligonier St. that once housed Rogers’ high school is now privately owned, but to honor its famous graduate, the new high school, located across town close to Palmer's Latrobe Country Club, houses a large display of items from Rogers’ school years, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood production memorabilia, and other items that show the impact that his family has and continues to have on the Latrobe community. The display is only open to the public during scheduled school activities.
Latrobe Area Historical Society
416 Weldon St., Latrobe, PA 15650
Explore the history of Fred Rogers birthplace, Latrobe, its heritage firsts, and famous citizens including Fred and golf legend Arnold Palmer. The Latrobe Area Historical Society building is open Tuesdays 1 to 3 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and by appointment (724-539-8889).
Latrobe Presbyterian Church
428 Main St., Latrobe, PA 15650
Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian Minister, so stop by and see where he attended as a child. Reflect for a moment in its beautiful prayer garden, then view the preserved school bell on the very site where Second Ward School — Rogers’ elementary school — once stood.
Fred Rogers’ Place of Burial
114 Chapel Lane, Latrobe, PA 15650
Take a moment to visit Fred Rogers’ final resting place and reflect on his legacy at Unity Cemetery, which sits about a mile west of Latrobe and offers panoramic views of the Chestnut Ridge of the Laurel Highlands at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains. Rogers lies in a family mausoleum along with his father, James Hillis Rogers, and his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers, among other family members. The mausoleum bears the name “Given” and sits atop a hill near the back of the cemetery. Unity was established March 1, 1774 via a land grant from William Penn's grandson, John Penn, as a burial ground and meeting place for the Presbyterian Congregation at Unity. Unity Church was the first Presbyterian Church west of the Allegheny Mountains. Just inside the cemetery gates is Unity Chapel, which was built in 1874 and is the third Presbyterian Church build on the grounds. A plaque to the left of the chapel front provides a historical background of this special place of worship and celebration.
Fred Rogers Statue in James H. Rogers Park
200 Main Street, Latrobe, PA 15650
Named in memory of Fred’s father James H. Rogers, continue revisiting fond memories with a pit stop to James H. Rogers Park at the corner of Jefferson and Main streets in downtown Latrobe, which features a statue of Fred Rogers sitting on a bench inviting you to take a seat and stay a while. Sit next to his statue — whose artist was so detail-oriented that he wanted to know the sizes of Rogers’ clothing when creating it — and snap the perfect selfie of you and the country’s most cherished neighbor. You can even visit the Pennsylvania State Historical Marker of Mister Rogers on the Main Street side of the park, which was installed in June 2016.
Latrobe Art Center
819 Ligonier St., Latrobe, PA 15650
Inside the Rogers Building next to James H. Rogers Park on the corner of Main and Ligonier streets, you’ll find the Latrobe Art Center and Ricolita’s Café, where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch. There is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood merchandise available for sale, along with inspiring artwork and crafts by artists throughout the region. We recommend trying a classic grilled cheese sandwich at the café, an option that Mister Rogers — a vegetarian — likely would have selected for himself.
805 Ligonier St., Latrobe, PA 15650
Next door to the Latrobe Art Center at 805 Ligonier Street is the birthplace of the Banana Split with a larger-than-life-size Banana Split sculpture and the Pennsylvania State Historical Marker explaining its origin. This site is a great opportunity for a photograph, so get your camera ready! We recommend Valley Dairy Restaurant nearby to get your very own boat filled with one scoop each of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream. The Latrobe community celebrates this sweet treat every August during the Great American Banana Split Festival!
Media Toolkit: Check out the Laurel Highlands stops along the Fred Rogers Trail here - https://www.laurelhighlands.org/blog/post/the-fred-rogers-trail/. To request high-resolution images, please contact Anna Weltz at email@example.com.
About Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands
A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located an hour east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob, Duncan House and Lindholm House – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and more.
Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at www.LaurelHighlands.org, calling 800.333.5661, www.facebook.com/laurelhighlandsPA and www.twitter.com/laurelhighlands. Established in 1958, the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. Check out the 2018 Laurel Highlands Destination Guide!