New regional tours benefit nonprofits

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Are you curious about where the Batmobile was chased through Downtown Pittsburgh in “The Dark Knight Rises?” Or where “Inspector Gadget” engaged in his big fight scene on the Roberto Clemente Bridge?

Does the thought of sampling local cuisine enjoyed by famous food connoisseurs make your tastebuds tingle?

Do you want to know where Bill Maseroski’s game-winning home run cleared the wall of Forbes Field in the 9th inning of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees?

Beginning Saturday, Pittsburgh Tours & More will be kicking off an array of tours that not only will showcase parts of the region for local residents and tourists, but will benefit nonprofit organizations at the same time.

A new group tour division of Pittsburgh Transportation Group has partnered with four local nonprofits to provide these organized visits.

Sherris Moreira, group tour director for Pittsburgh Transportation Group, wanted to find a way to promote Pittsburgh and local nonprofits. “Visitors to historical sites spend one third more [time] than they do at other locations,” Ms. Moreira said. Combining tours and fundraising seemed like a natural affiliation.

Since 2008, she has offered walking tours at various times in and about Pittsburgh. She also has been the director of marketing and tourism development for the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, which provides hard hat tours of the Carrie Furnace and other industrial sites.

Here are the new tours:

 “Lights, Camera, Pittsburgh” is an interactive 2 1/2-hour tour through city backdrops that appeared in movies such as “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Flashdance,” “Striking Distance,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower” and dozens more. The first tour is Saturday, and tickets are $40 (discounts for those purchasing two or more tickets). A portion of these proceeds will benefit the Pittsburgh Film Office, which has welcomed 120-plus movies and TV productions here since 1990. The film office has wanted to develop a tour for a long time, Ms. Moreira said.

In its latest venture, the film office is working with the cast and crew of “South Paw,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, this summer.

 “The Flavor of Pittsburgh,” kicking off July 11, celebrates the Steel City’s popular food culture, which was named the “Next Big Food City” by Bon Appetit magazine for 2014. Guests on this three-hour tour (tickets begin at $75) will be treated to the same delicacies embraced by celebrity chefs, magazine writers and bloggers. Proceeds will benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Alyssa Jurewicz-Johns, director of community engagement at the food bank said, “We are very excited about this out-of-the-box concept.”

The Pittsburgh Transportation Group “reached out to us about a food tour, and it seemed like a perfect fit.”

 “The Amish Experience,” starting June 28, is the longest of the tours at 6 and 1/2 hours (tickets cost $85) and takes guests through the countryside of Old Order Amish in the heart of Western Pennsylvania. Visitors will travel to New Wilmington and Volant, both in Lawrence County, and will have the opportunity to shop for hand-crafted items. The partner nonprofit is the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center. Formed in 1909, the organization is the only shelter in the region that takes in and cares for both wild and companion animals.

“We rely on fundraising,” said Dan Rossi, executive director. “The bulk of our funds are donation-based. Donations are core to how we take care of our animals.”

 “City of Champions” will take visitors on a 2½-hour tour of historic Pittsburgh sports locations, with the first trip scheduled for June 7. Tickets are $40. A logical choice for nonprofit partner was the Josh Gibson Foundation, which honors the Homestead Grays slugger. The goal of the foundation is to provide the type of access that Gibson never enjoyed with the creation of facilities and baseball fields dedicated to Pittsburgh youth. “It’s an honor to be involved in the tour,” said executive director Sean Gibson, the great grandson of the Baseball Hall of Fame legend. In addition to receiving some proceeds, the foundation will benefit from the increased exposure on both a local and national level, he said.

If these destinations leave you thirsty for more, there’s another series of tours to wet your whistle: Pennsylvania Brew Tours, which was started at the end of 2012 by Army vet Jake Voelker. The Pittsburgh Brewery Tour includes Church Brew Works and Penn Brewery. The East Pittsburgh Brew Tour N’at includes Rivertowne Brewing, described as gigantic and Full Pint Brewery. Other tours venture a bit farther and include a two-day trip to the north. Private and custom tours are available.

Ticket prices range from $29 and higher, depending upon destination and duration. Proceeds of these benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

All of the above public tours run Fridays and Saturdays. For more information on Pittsburgh Tours & More call 412-323-4709 or www.pghtoursandmore.net.

For more information on brewery tours visit www.pabrewtours.com.


Lorri Drumm 412-263-3771, ldrumm@post-gazette.com

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