Florida College Unveils Inspiring Statue of Cherished Alum, Mister Rogers

The bronze statue depicts Mister Rogers wearing his iconic cardigan and surrounded by adoring children.

Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, has erected a moving statue of Fred Rogers, the beloved TV host who graduated from the liberal arts institution 70 years ago.

The bronze sculpture, entitled "A Beautiful Day for a Neighbor," was commissioned by the college to honor Rogers' legacy. It depicts Mister Rogers, as he is better known, wearing his iconic cardigan and surrounded by adoring children. It was unveiled at a private ceremony on campus yesterday afternoon.

Mr Rogers Sculpture Rollins College
Scott Cook/Rollins College

"This inspirational sculpture will be a permanent reminder of the ideals and values modeled by Mister Rogers as he set out to make the world a better place," Rollins President Grant Cornwell said in a release. "This tribute will reinforce the quest for empathy, acceptance, and kindness so needed in our society today."

The 360-degree sculpture is located in the Chapel Garden courtyard. It stands over seven-feet-tall and weighs more than 3,000 pounds. The sculpture portrays Rogers entertaining a gaggle of kids with his Daniel Tiger hand puppet and includes lyrics from the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood theme song.

Mr Rogers Sculpture Rollins
Scott Cook/Rollins College

"Once I became familiar with Fred Rogers' life and legacy, I understood how important it was that this sculpture honor his dedication to childhood development," said sculptor Paul Day. "My hope is that this piece will bring joy and inspiration to many people, just as 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' did for generations."

Rogers came to Rollins in 1948 as a transfer student from Dartmouth. In addition to being a recognized student leader on campus, he excelled academically, graduating with distinction and a degree in music composition in 1951. He also met his future wife, Sara Joanne Byrd Rogers at Rollins.

The sculpture is the fifth stop on Rollins' Mister Rogers Walking Tour, which also features one of Rogers' sweaters and his sneakers and the "Life is for Service" plaque that inspired Rogers while he was a student at the Orlando-area school.

Rogers died of cancer on February 27, 2003, at age 74. He received more than 40 honorary degrees and several awards throughout his lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997.

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