Coasting into Summer

As a child growing up in the Highland Park neighborhood, Pitt alum and Board of Trustees Chair Eva Tansky Blum looked forward to joining her siblings, parents and classmates for an annual trip to Kennywood amusement park. 

While those visits have become birthday celebrations with her family, this year was her first attending the park as part of Pitt Day at Kennywood.

“It was so wonderful to share a day of food and fun at Kennywood with so many people who do so much for Pitt,” Blum said.

Hundreds of employees attended the June 29 event. Half-price park admission came with a buffet barbecue lunch of hotdogs, chicken and pulled pork, as well as complimentary raffle entries. Gift baskets included Pitt apparel in athletics’ new colors, coloring books and tickets to Panthers football games.

In pavilion five, a DJ spun hits, Pitt Police officers offered water bottles and Be Fit Pitt staff challenged attendees to visit specific park destinations for mini-workouts to make the day as healthy as it was fun.

Friends and family from far and wide

Andy Stephany, associate administrator in the School of Medicine, attended with his wife Laura and daughter Audrey.For Stephany, who is also president of Staff Council, the annual outing is one of his favorite University events.

“It’s great to see the Pitt community come to enjoy spending time outside of work with our colleagues at the park,” he said. “We really enjoy spending the day with our extended Pitt family for Pitt Day at Kennywood.”

Participants came from near and far. Alum Quentin Metzgar and his wife, Angela, drove from Maryland to join his father, Roger, who works in grounds at Pitt–Johnstown.

Brian Root, assistant director of housing residence life and Pitt–Greensburg, had double duty at the park: In addition to serving as a Staff Council volunteer and collecting raffle money for chances to win one of myriad gift baskets on offer, he was also on “uncle duty.”

“My nephew and I enjoyed a few rides and shared some Potato Patch fries. On the way home, I couldn’t help but smile when my niece continued to sing the chorus to 'Sweet Caroline,' a song she was previously unfamiliar with,” Root said. “Everyone had a blast.”

  • Staff Council President Andy Stephany (left) and Vice President of Public Relations Amy Kleebank (right) greeted Board of Trustees Chair Eva Tansky Blum (center). “It’s truly a wonderful event put on by Staff Council,” said Stephany. (Monica Mashak)
  • Patti Himelright (left), who works in facilities management, has visited the park many times with her husband Dave, an analyst for integrated security, but this was their first time as a family with their daughter Elena. (Monica Mashak)
  • Robyne Ivory (left), project coordinator in the University Library System, and Tammeka Banks (right), department administrator in the Office of Research, passed out free raffle tickets. “At work, you have to work. It’s fun to be out with everyone,” said Banks. “Here you get to ride together,” added Ivory. (Monica Mashak)
  • For Gloria Caples, marketing director in the Office of Athletics, the event was her first time at Kennywood. “I feel super excited to act like a kid,” she said. (Monica Mashak)
  • Harrison Kleebank, son of Amy Kleebank in the Office of University Communications, showed off his face painting to Kenny Kangaroo. (Monica Mashak)
  • Chuck Staresinic (center), director of executive speechwriting in the Office of University Communications, brought his daughters (from left) Juliet and Rose, nephew Henry and daughter Amelia. “My daughters were thrilled to take Henry on some of his first roller coasters,” Staresinic said, though Henry lost his hat on the Jack Rabbit. “It was a lot of fun. I’m glad they’re keeping me young!” (Monica Mashak)