By Brian L Brink
Thiel College held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the redecorated Mister Rogers Room in the James Pedas Communications Center on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
The ceremony heard speeches from Susan Traverso, President of Thiel College; James McHugh ‘62, Thiel College Trustee Emeritus and James Okonak, Executive Director of the McFeely Rogers Foundation. Notable audience members included preschoolers from Thiel College’s head-start program and the latest winner of the McFeely Rogers Foundation Scholarship, Katie McKeever.
McHugh explained that the redecoration happened to commemorate Mister Rogers Neighborhood’s 50th anniversary. He said that it happened at Thiel as it was the first institution, of 43, to give Rogers an honorary degree.
“It’s a beautiful day at Thiel College” Okonak said to start his part of the ceremony. A line that calls back to the first line of the show’s theme song, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”
Okonak went on to explain the different parts of the room. These parts include a short biography of Rogers, pictures from the show and of Rogers himself, quotes from Rogers and a section of the speech he gave Thiel College when he received his honorary degree in 1969.
“We wanted to show Fred,” Okonak said.
It took almost a year of work put into it according to Amanda Wolfe, graphic designer with Blue Sky Sign Co. Wolfe is the one who designed the room for the McFeely Rogers Foundation.
“I didn’t want it to have to be like a timeline, I wanted it to be more of an inspirational room,” Wolfe said.
She collected 300 images from Ohio University and worked with the foundation to decide which images would work or not. She went on to express that she had almost complete creative freedom with the design of the room. Wolfe also said that the day of set up was the first time she had been in the room and that she was designed it completely from measurements and just hoped for the best.
For those who don’t know the Mister Rogers Room has always been in Pedas. However, before being redecorated on Oct. 9, it only had one of the trolleys used in the show, sitting on the ledge high above the room entrance and a small plaque at the entrance. Now, it is one of the most distinguished parts of the campus.
Roberta Leonard, Vice President for College Advancement and the head of the project from Thiel’s end, expressed her thanks to the McFeely Rogers Foundation for donating the entire room to Thiel College.