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State marker in Latrobe to honor Mr. Rogers

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

On some beautiful day in a Latrobe neighborhood, Mister Rogers will be remembered with a blue and gold historical marker.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission announced on Tuesday that Fred McFeely Rogers, the children's television host and Latrobe native, will be commemorated in a ceremony at James H. Rogers Park at Main and Jefferson streets.

The date for the marker's unveiling has not been decided.

Rogers was 74 when he died almost 11 years ago. He is credited with teaching legions of children how to be compassionate and love themselves on his public television show, “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,” during the program's 33-year run, all while wearing his signature cardigans and tennis shoes.

“If you grew up during a certain era, you knew Mister Rogers. It's a part of many Pennsylvanians' childhoods,” said Howard Pollman, spokesman for the state agency that grants the markers.

Rogers' nomination was among 57 applications this year. Twenty-one markers were approved to recognize places, events and people in Pennsylvania history, such as NBA founder Eddie Gottlieb, the World War II-era Stuart tank and 1963 Sheppton Mine disaster.

A person is eligible for a marker 10 years after his or her death.

Through the work of Jarod Trunzo, former Latrobe community engagement coordinator, and 18-year-old intern Mary Vanden Berk of Latrobe, the nomination for Rogers came about after last year's dedication of a marker recognizing the creation of the banana split in the city, said Jim Okonak, executive director of the McFeely-Rogers Foundation.

“The notoriety that the banana split marker brought to the community — people were saying, ‘We should have something here for Fred,' ” Okonak said.

Okonak said officials are planning to place the recognition in James H. Rogers Park, which is named after Fred Rogers' father. It's maintained by the foundation established by the family in 1953.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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