Upon witnessing the ever-popular Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood remix montage titled “Garden of Your Mind”, those who are most familiar with the beloved television staple in a nostalgic way returned to the home in which Mr. Fred Rogers entertained many generations of young viewers. So much about this classic is memorable, like the feel-good, piano-based theme song, Mr. Rogers’ wardrobe of sweaters and cardigans, Prince Tuesday and the other adorable puppet characters in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, the little trolley… No doubt those who knew and loved the show watched “Garden of Your Mind” with warm hearts at the thought of it being revived and remembered in such a way.
The history of this treasured television series is evolutionary. It had its earliest beginnings as The Children’s Corner in 1953. It was produced by a Pittsburg television station featuring Fred Rogers as a puppeteer and hosted by Josie Carrey. This program was the birthplace of several puppet characters and music pieces used in Mister Rogers. In 1963, Rogers moved to Toronto, Canada and developed his own show based on The Children’s Corner, which was called Misterogers. Rogers appeared as himself on this show that aired for three years. It was from the set of this show he found pieces like the castle and the trolley to use in his later productions. Then, in 1966, Rogers took his show back to Pittsburg and called it Misterogers Neighborhood. Incorporated in the show were segments of “The Neighborhood of Make-Believe” from the Canadian show. This program was initially broadcasted through what is now the America Public Television Network, which reached solely the eastern regions of the United States in places like New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. Early in 1967, the show was cancelled because of a lack in funding. After a public response, the Sears Roebuck Foundation gave enough money for the show to broadcast nationally, and preparations for the show’s first national season began in October of the same year. It aired nationally on February 19th, 1968. When possessed by PBS in 1970, the show took on the title by which it’s known today. The show’s production ran until August 31st, 2001.
This fall, Mr. Rogers’ legacy will be reinvented once more on PBS in a cartoon spinoff called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. According to the network, it will be set Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and the
protagonists are the offspring of his original characters. It’s geared towards two to four year olds to promote key social skills for starting school and life. Judging by the preview, Rogers’ treasured traditions in entertainment is wonderfully represented! I was sold on theme song; hardly straying from the beloved “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” tune, but tailored to fit this series and sung by a child!
“The Garden of Your Mind” is homage to a wonderful show of the past and signals reincarnation in the near future. This remix project was like Mr. Rogers meets Kanye West. An unforgettable icon of sixty years has been made over for the next generation. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will surely not disappoint those who grew up in the original neighborhood.