20 years of Winterfest. This is a picture of the original Queen of Winterfest, Susan Davies. She worked for us from 1987-1995, doing weather, and reporting. She is still one of my closet friends, and was there for the very beginning of one of our favorite events. Susan is an expert, sometimes extreme, skier, who did one of her live shots with a wireless mike, skiing down the slopes. She also reminded me that she used to spend the entire two weeks up there, doing a story everyday. We laughed about the night we almost got kicked out of the Oak Room. We had a huge table, that included the always irrepressible WTAE photographer, Art Carr. Art regaled us with the story of his encounter with Samson the Bear. Samson was a trained bear that he wrestled at the Westmoreland Mall, when he was a young, and obviously, foolish, man. We were laughing so loudly–especially when he talked about trying to crawl out of the ring, and the bear kept jumping on him and dragging him back in, and he was screaming, “Help me, help me!” The staff had to ask us to be quiet, or leave. And, yes, I was more worried about how the bear was being treated.

Susan left us in 1995 for Cleveland and WEWS. She now lives in Colorado Springs, with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Betsy–one of my favorite little girls. Predictably, she is becoming quite an accomplished skier, just like Mom.

Didn’t make the ski race this year—had a wedding to attend. But reviewing last Winterfest week-end–it was right up there. A couple of memorable moments–or moments I can still remember. During the Celebrity Olympics, there was an obstacle course, in which one person was blindfolded, and had to pull another person in an innertube around slalom poles. The person in the innertube screamed out the directions. We thought it would be funny to let Louie Lipps pull the considerably bigger, and younger, Chris Hoke( Steelers nose tackle). What we didn’t anticipate, was Steelers linebacker, James Harrision, hanging onto the back of the tube, adding considerable drag—all unbeknownst to poor Louie. We were rolling on the snow, laughing. Louie never had a clue, until he lifted the blindfold.


Another highlight–actually, this Treo camera photo looks like it has no light. It is Abby Abbondanza , of the PovertyNeck HIllbillies, Ben Roethlisberger, and Brett Kiesel, during the Winterfest concert. Abby had walked up into the balcony and was singing from there during one of the numbers. I was standing right behind them, and was just blown away with how good the band is. Tremendous energy. I had never seen them live, and Chris Higbee is a fine, fine fiddler (Did you know symphony musicians also call their violins, fiddles, sometimes? ). Ben has been enormously supportive of the band, and they are now the official band of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s wishing them even greater success.

Talk about success. How ’bout them Pens?! I heard one sports talk show host compare them to the Edmonton Oilers in the 80’s –Gretsky, Messier, Coffey. BTW, when Gretsky started in the WHA at 17, I served him a gingerale in my then-husband’s sports bar. It was in Birmingham, when the Birmingham Bulls played there. My ex was also a partner with the former Montreal Canadien, Phil Roberto, and some other hockey players, in a disco. (yes, I took disco lessons, but I was abominanble) .

But I digress. The furor over the Pens was certainly evident at the Penguins “At Your Service,” benefitting Cystic Fibrosis. I have never seen the place so packed, and poor Evgeni Malkin signed more than served. I was fortunate enough to be paired with him, and his translator, George, could not have been more patient and witty…Evgeni never stopped smiling. Here he is with Wendy’s son, Jack, who bravely, but very politely, made his way around the room for signatures. Can you imagine being surrounded by all that talk, and understanding only a smattering of it? I give him all the credit in the world. Some say immersion is the way to learn a language, but it must be taxing . I bet he has a huge headache at the end of the day.

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