It’s a beautiful day for return to Make-Believe

In honor of its 40th anniversary on public TV, the famous Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe set, including King Friday XIII’s castle, will be assembled for public viewing one last time, Nov. 6–8 [2009] at Pittsburgh’s WQED. Much of the large set has been warehoused near the station since Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood production ceased in 2001, about two years before Fred Rogers died.

Mr. McFeeley, the Speedy Delivery Mailman (in real life, David Newell, still at work with Rogers’ Family Communications Inc.) will be there for autographs. Station staffers will snap Polaroid instant photos for visitors. There’ll be crafts, refreshments and other activities.

“We’re getting calls from people all over the country who’d like to come,” said Rosemary Martinelli, WQED spokesperson. At least one other pubTV station is bringing a busload of fans.

Kevin Morrison, c.e.o. of Family Communications, noted that the set’s iconic pieces “have all found a home somewhere.” The Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., is the main repository, with such items as the original puppets, Daniel Striped Tiger’s clock and a famous red cardigan, in addition to Rogers’ research archives. WQED permanently installed the castle and the owl’s tree outside the studio; other pieces are at the Sen. John Heinz History Center, also in Pittsburgh, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The production company is talking with several museums to gauge interest in remaining components.

Sets for the interior and exterior of Rogers’ house, which occupied a separate studio during production, won’t be on display.

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