I remember watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood when I was a kid like it was yesterday. I’d sit on the floor in front of our console television in the mornings before I even attended school, and then once I got older, I’d do the same thing after school and on weekends- and every other time the show was on. Mr. Rogers was my hero. He made me feel special and unique (remember the song “It’s You I Like”?). I knew he loved every single one of his viewers- you could see it in his eyes. His kind smile and soft voice could turn any day from gloomy to sunny.
I learned how to tie my shoes from watching Mr. Rogers. I looked forward to Picture Picture showing how crayons were made. I even remember the episode where Mr. Rogers has to attend court for a parking ticket.
There was never a moment in my tele-watching childhood that doesn’t involve and revolve around Mr. Rogers. When he passed away, a piece of my childhood passed away. My daughter, now 13, remembers watching Mr. Rogers when she was little. I made it a point to turn on our PBS station when his show was on so she could dream about the Neighborhood of Make Believe and watch him feed his fish.
Now as an adult, I revel in the fact that Pittsburgh goes all out to celebrate my hero’s birthday each year, and each year the celebration gets bigger. This year was the 13th annual celebration for Children’s Museum Pittsburgh and I could not wait to enjoy the festivities right along with it. Every year the museum offers free admission for all on birthday celebration day and hosts David Newell, who is affectionately known as Mr. McFeely (MUCH more on this amazing man soon!).
Children’s Museum Pittsburgh has amazing touches that may go unnoticed by today’s tiny tots, but for my daughter and me, it’s those touches that make the museum’s tributes to Mr. Rogers an inspiration to this generation. The original puppets used in the Neighborhood of Make Believe are on prominent display and Mr. Rogers’ sweater (hand-knitted by his mother!) is at the eye level of children on the first floor.
Do you remember King Friday XIII and Queen Sarah? Did you know that Mr. Rogers used the number so kids wouldn’t be afraid of the number 13?
Lady Elaine Fairchild– ever the troublemaker. Even encased in her glass dome she looks like she’s up to something.
Aww, Henrietta Pussycat. How many times did you sit trying to decipher her?
A Visit with Mr. McFeeley
The highlight of our visit was watching David Newell, AKA Mr. McFeeley, tell stories and sing to the children in the Children’s Museum Pittsburgh Theater. Getting to sing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” along with him was a blast from my childhood past and it was sweet to see and hear all of the little kids and their parents singing along as well.
After his show, Mr. McFeely sat at a table and signed autographs for us fans. He even gave out hugs and I thought The Kid was going to tackle him when he told her she could have one!
Waiting to get one of these little beauties signed!
It’s the small things that count, and instead of sitting behind a desk to sign photos, David Newell sat beside it so the kids could walk right up to him. Such an incredible man and one I am honored to have met.
In the words of Mr McFeely, “Speedy Delivery!” and happy travels!