Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness

Mr. Rogers' Week of Kindness

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, a week-long series of educational and public events inspired by the nationally renowned children’s television host and American icon, is set to commence March 20, 2023, throughout the greater Orlando area on what would have been Fred Rogers’ 95th birthday.

“He was probably the kindest person I ever knew,” shared David Newell, a close friend to Fred, and more famously known as the actor who portrayed Mr. McFeely on the children’s television program. “He was kind; he was thoughtful. He practiced that every day. He was that way with everyone.”

Newell, as well as longtime Rogers employee Hedda Sharapan (now a senior fellow at the Fred Rogers Institute and child development consultant to Fred Rogers Productions) and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood producer Margy Whitmer, are among those cast and crew veterans coming to Orlando to participate in the activities.

The free public events March 23-25 for the inaugural year of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness include:

Remember the Rogers Afternoon Tea

Mr. Rogers' Week of Kindness

Join friends and colleagues of part-year Winter Park residents Fred and Joanne Rogers as we share warm stories and favorite memories of our former Winter Park Neighbors. There are very limited seats for this event. 

Thursday, March 23, at the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, 419 South Interlachen Avenue (Winter Park), from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Free street parking in the area is generally available.

Mister Rogers’ Prayer Breakfast of Thanksgiving and Celebration

Mr. Rogers' Week of Kindness

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood cast member and close personal friend of Fred Rogers, David Newell, headlines a discussion with Pastor Seth Kane of The Foundry (and author of the sermon series “The Gospel According to Fred” as they share their observations, near and from a distance, as to how Mister Rogers lived out his faith as we celebrate an extraordinary life of faithfulness. This event is held due to the generosity of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. Breakfast is included courtesy of Panera Bread. 

Friday, March 24, at First Baptist Orlando, 3000 South John Young Parkway (Orlando), from 8:00 am – 9:30 am. Free parking is available in the church parking lot.

Mr. Rogers' Week of Kindness

Our Winter Park Neighbor Lunch & Learn with David Newell (Mr. McFeely)

Mr. McFeely (David Newell) leads a lunch discussion as he invites you into the world of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. You‘ll learn about both the making the show and more about Winter Park’s “Good Neighbor”, Fred Rogers, and his time in the area. Lunch is included courtesy of Chick-fil-A. 

Friday, March 24, at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, 151 West Lyman Avenue (Winter Park), from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm. Free parking is available in a lot across from the Chamber of Commerce and along the street.

Inside Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Screening and Q&A

Mr. Rogers' Week of Kindness

Take a peek behind the scenes of some landmark episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with show producer Margy Whitmer, Mr. McFeely cast member David Newell, and Hedda Sharapan, Senior Fellow (The Fred Rogers Institute) and Child Development Consultant (Fred Rogers Productions). 

Friday, March 24, at the Winter Park Library, 1052 West Morse Boulevard (Winter Park), from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Free parking is available in the garage across the street from the library.

Mr. Rogers' Week of Kindness

Mr. McFeely Meet & Greet 

Come visit our favorite Speedy Delivery man, Mr. McFeely (David Newell), at Taste of Oviedo. Get a selfie or pick up an autographed photo from the man at Mister Rogers’ side from the first episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. 

Saturday, March 25, at the Original Orlando Tours booth at Taste of Oviedo in the Oviedo Mall parking lot, 1700 Oviedo Mall Boulevard (Oviedo), from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Free parking is available in the Oviedo Mall parking lot.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Rich Bradley, President & CEO of Buena Vista Events & Management, which is in-part underwriting and producing Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Unbeknownst to some locals, Central Florida was a major part of Fred Rogers’ life. He took to the area immediately in 1948 when he transferred from Dartmouth College to Rollins College in Winter Park.

He met the love of his life and future spouse, Sara Joanne Byrd, on the tarmac of what is now the Orlando Executive Airport. His sister (Elaine) and one of his sons (John) attended Rollins, as did his nephew Dan Crozier, who has served on the school’s music faculty for many years.

Most importantly, at a point in his career, Fred and Joanne returned to Winter Park annually, where he used his time in Central Florida to write many of the 895 scripts and over 200 pieces of original music for the TV program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The Orlando region is truly Mister Rogers’ real neighborhood.

For more information on the events, please visit the official website.

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