There’s nothing like leaving behind the routine of your shoulder-hunching, time-crunching daily activities and relaxing into vacation, even if it is January.In 2009, my husband and I visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—more specifically, Spring Church—to watch Super Bowl XLIII with family. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I am a fan of community. And Pittsburgh—as well as surrounding townships and villages—emanates a strong sense of pride. Black and gold draped the vendors’ tables that lined The Strip District as the Steelers’ Fight Song intrusively echoed in the near-glacial air. Walking the streets of Pittsburgh, I couldn’t help but feel at home among the ripened brick buildings, each with a story to tell.
The most fascinating aspect of visiting the City of Bridges—Allegheny County has more than 1,700 bridges, 720 of which are reportedly within Pittsburgh city limits—is the camaraderie. Never have I seen city folk come together so fluidly for no other reason than for good cheer.
Super Bowl XLIII held a special meaning for Pittsburghers this year as the Steelers earned their sixth Super Bowl championship. Headlines were painted in wit reading, “The Joy of Six,” and “Lords of the Rings.”
We spent the final hours of Super Bowl Sunday cozied-up in the Apollo Elks Lodge where I ran into old-timers like Regis, who had become increasingly aware of his mortality and now that he’d seen this “miracle” was making plans to finish his bucket list before time took the reins.
Slurs swirled the room in harmony as local lodge members celebrated the Steelers’ victory. “I’ll buy breakfast for anyone who shows up tomorrow morning,” yelled one member. Then, when the body-writhing tune of Dancing Queen came over the Elks’ speakers, I realized that I was in a rural town of Pittsburgh, where time has stopped and its residents simply don’t mind. My husband and I flew nearly 3,000 miles for this experience and we surely would not have encountered such esprit de corps at a Raiders riot…er…celebration.
Truthfully, Pittsburghers are not unlike residents here at home; maintaining hope through political and economic uncertainty, clinging to whatever elements each person has in common with another, holding onto the knowledge that humanity will persevere. I believe much of our nation is aware of this verity and should aspire to promote a sense of community, and in the end, we will emerge strong and proud. In the words of M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, “There can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”