Super Spirit: In Steelers country, fans show true colors
February 3, 2011 3:00 PM
Snow sculptures of the Steelers are frozen in battle at the O'Block Playground near the entrance of Boyce Park. Some of the snowmen were painted as Green Bay Packers.
A snow sculpture of Steeler Troy Polamalu at the O'Block Playground.
You can hardly go anywhere in southwestern Pennsylvania this week without seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers black and gold on anything from banners to dinosaurs to newborns.
As Sunday's Super Bowl approaches, fans of all ages and in every community are showing support for the Steelers' quest for their seventh Super Bowl win.
Here's some examples of Steelers mania throughout the region:
Swaddled in Terrible Towels
When Joe Laffey and his girlfriend Samantha Grimm left their Bethel Park home Friday for the birth of their daughter Annabella Grace, they were both dressed in Steelers T-shirts as was Ms. Grimm's mother, Terri Grimm.
Two hours later, little Annabella made her first public appearance, along with eight other newborns in the nursery at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon, wrapped in a Terrible Towel and wearing a Steelers cap.
"This is beautiful. We are all about the Steelers," Mr. Laffey said.
His family was unaware that the hospital had planned a media event for that day, dressing its newborns in Steelers garb and posing them for pictures. The babies, three girls and six boys, ranged in age from 10 minutes to 3 days old.
The youngest is Brayden McQuillan. His mom, Jayme McQuillan of Bridgeville, wanted to make sure he was included in the Steelers festivities so he pretty much went straight from the delivery room to the Steelers display.
"We have our own little football team here," said Terry Fulcher, director of women and children's services at St. Clair.
For Mr. Laffey and his family of Steelers fans, the event made Annabella's arrival even sweeter than he could have imagined.
"We already have little Steelers outfits at home for her to wear," he said.
Likewise, Alexander Ameredes, born Jan. 26, also was posed in a Terrible Towel and has Steelers baby clothes waiting for him at home, said his father, Alexander.
Little Alexander did his dad a favor by being born nearly two weeks early, relieving Mr. Ameredes of the worry that his child would arrive during Sunday's Super Bowl.
"I told my wife, 'You have to have the baby before the Super Bowl,' " said Mr. Ameredes, of Collier. His wife obliged, and their 7 pound, 2 ounce son, according to dad, is a future linebacker.
-- Mary Niederberger
St. Rosalia's has two teams to cheer for
How do you choose between:
a) a hometown kid who rose through the ranks of the National Football League to become a head coach
b) the home team that will face him in the Super Bowl?
The answer at St. Rosalia Academy in Greenfield is: You don't.
In a show of support to alumnus Mike McCarthy, coach of the Green Bay Packers, and the Steelers, St. Rosalia hosted "Gold Day," a day when students wore either Steelers black and gold, Green Bay Packers green and gold, or the neutral school colors of blue and gold. Mr. McCarthy attended St. Rosalia in the late '70s, principal Sarah Tonski said.
Throughout the school all week, doors and windows were decorated in Steelers and Green Bay colors. On Gold Day, students and staff sported white T-shirts with the pointedly ambiguous message: "We Like Mike." Whether it represented Mr. McCarthy or Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was anyone's guess.
"So many people have been contacting us about whom we're cheering on in the Super Bowl because Mike McCarthy went to school here and is still a big supporter. So we said we support both teams equally," Ms. Tonski said.
Students also participated in a day of physical activity that celebrated the Super Bowl and Catholic Schools Week, which began Monday.
-- Deborah Todd
Rooting for the Packers
How does a nice boy from Mount Oliver grow up to be a "cheesehead"? Blame it on technology, or the lack thereof.
"We didn't have ESPN, and they only showed Green Bay on TV," Walt Milinski said of the 1960s when the Packers won the first two Super Bowls and the Steelers were seldom seen.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the self-proclaimed "Unofficial President of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Green and Gold Fan Club" and its three members -- son Harrison, nephew Walter Bond and cocker spaniel Lambeau -- will gather before the Packers shrine in his Bethel Park family room to cheer on their favorite team.
His wife, Nancy, a Steelers fan, steers clear of all things Packers, including a team shirt.
"I bought it for her this week, and she said I have to take it back, but I won't," said Mr. Milinski, 51.
In addition to a Green Bay banner that hangs outside his Lawrence Road home, the indoor decor consists of team jerseys, "cheesehead" hats, Brett Favre bobbleheads and more.
While his family accuses him of brainwashing Harrison, 18, into joining the Packers faithful while he was a preschooler, Walter, 11, of Green Tree, came on board only a few months ago.
"As he's getting older, he has a mind of his own," Mr. Milinski said of his nephew, "and maybe he saw our enthusiasm -- or else he's aggravating his mother."
Mr. Milinski, a Carrick High School teacher, said he has "stayed loyal through thick and thin," including putting up with the good-natured ribbing as he and Harrison exited Heinz Field after a loss to the Steelers in 2009.
-- Margaret Smykla
Super Bowl academics: 'Keisel' means ...
At Mt. Lebanon High School, teachers are making the Super Bowl a cerebral experience.
Carlie McGinty, director of student activities, came up with the idea to hold a Steelers Academic Trivia contest and asked teachers to submit Steelers-themed questions and problems in their subject areas.
For example, math teacher Pete Bouvy asked: What is mathematically significant about the jersey numbers of Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, Doug Legusky and Arnaz Battle? The answer: They are all perfect squares -- 4, 16, 25, 64 and 81.
German teacher Peg Meyer asked: Which Steeler has a last name that means 'pebble' in German? That would be Brett Keisel, though the actual German word is kiesel.
And a physics teacher, of course, couldn't resist getting into the game with calculations about force and angles.
Andrew Haberberger, who teaches physics and chemistry, submitted a question that entails figuring out whether a field goal attempt is a good one based on the distance from the goal and the speed and angle from which it is kicked.
Colleague Irene Duda, a physics teacher, asked students to figure out how fast Hines Ward must run to catch a Ben Roethlisberger pass thrown at a particular speed and angle.
Music teacher Jason Greenawalt asked a simple question: What key is "Here We Go Steelers" played in? Answer: B flat.
Adam Lumish, social studies teacher, asked students to name the five cities in which the Steelers won their previous Super Bowls -- New Orleans (twice), Miami, Pasadena, Detroit and Tampa.
The questions were posted on a bulletin board this week and students had the chance to fill out forms giving the answers. Mrs. McGinty said small prizes would be given to a teacher with the best question and students who scored the highest on the quiz.
-- Mary Niederberger
Sophie Rooney Mendenhall Toprani?
The most important moments in the life of Washington County District Attorney Steven Toprani have revolved around the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
"The year I was born, the Steelers were in the Super Bowl; the year my son was born, the Steelers were in the Super Bowl; and now my daughter will be born when the Steelers are in the Super Bowl," he said. "It could be a Toprani trifecta."
Mr. Toprani was born three weeks before the 1979 Super Bowl, in which the Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys. His son Will was born three weeks after the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, and now, daughter Sophie is due to be born just weeks after this year's game.
Two years ago, Mr. Toprani suggested to his wife Jen that they name their son Hines Tomlin Toprani, but she declined.
This time around, the ardent Steelers fan is hoping -- fruitlessly, he knows -- that his wife may be more open to the idea.
"I'm considering naming her Rooney Mendenhall Toprani," he said of his daughter.
Even if Mrs. Toprani demurs, which she surely will, Mr. Toprani said he has a baby-sized Terrible Towel waiting for his daughter's arrival.
"I was brought home [from the hospital] with a Terrible Towel, and we had one for Will," he said. "This year, Sophie has one ready."
Pets are fans, too
• Feline fans are "tail-gating" at the Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township. The free-roaming cat room -- where kitties get play time out of their cages -- has been turned into a Pittsburgh Porch with black and gold decor.
The Steelers theme has spread throughout the shelter. New animals coming in are getting Steelers-themed names, including an 8-year-old cat dubbed Lamar Hunt.
The pet supply shop and boutique has black-and-gold sweaters and toys and is raffling a Steelers Fanatic Pet Basket with prizes that include a Steelers pet bed.
On Saturday, the shelter is hosting a Bunny Bowl from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Adoptable rabbits will run free on a mini football field decorated with helmets and footballs.
-- Linda Wilson Fuoco
• The Petco store on Fort Couch Road in Bethel Park has as its motto "Animals always come first," even when it comes to the Super Bowl.
General manager Bruce Boyd not only encouraged the employees to dress in Steelers attire last weekend but he decorated every corner of the store and even the pets with Steelers banners.
Souper Bowl competitions
Staffers at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in the Waterfront complex in Homestead are getting into the spirit of competition surrounding the Super Bowl by holding their own contest called the Souper Bowl.
That AIU has challenged its counterpart in Green Bay, Wis., the Cooperative Educational Service Agency No. 7, to see which organization can collect the most cans of soup for local food banks and pantries.
Donations collected at the AIU will be donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Those collected by school districts will be given to food banks in the communities, AIU executive director Linda Hippert said.
Donations can be brought to the receptionist in the lobby of AIU headquarters at 475 E. Waterfront St., Homestead. Register the donations with the receptionist so they can be counted in the tally.
The Souper Bowl competition will conclude at 12:30 p.m. Friday when the two agencies will hold a joint video conference to announce their totals. At that time, AIU employees will be gathered for a Steelers pep rally and pot luck lunch. Members of the agency that loses the competition will sing the fight song of the opponent's team via the video conference.
As a follow-up, the two organizations have agreed that if the Packers win the Super Bowl on Sunday, the AIU employees will wear Packers colors to work the next day and if the Steelers win, the Green Bay folks will wear black and gold.
But between now and Monday, AIU employees should not wear green to work. Dr. Hippert sent a memo to employees last week banning the color green from their work attire.
-- Mary Niederberger
• The Steelers aren't the only ones with a record to protect.
Just as the Steelers are heading into Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers having won their past two Super Bowls, the students at South Fayette Middle School are tackling a soup drive having won their past two "Souper Bowls."
The students this week are competing with a Green Bay-area school to see which school can collect more soup to donate to food banks.
They hope to add another win to their 2-0 record, achieved when the Steelers played and won the 2006 and 2009 Super Bowls.
"I think not only will Pittsburgh beat Green Bay in the Super Bowl, but I think we can outdo Green Bay in the Souper Bowl as well," eighth-grader Nick Karafilis said.
Soup donations -- cans or boxes -- may be delivered to the middle school office until 1 p.m. Friday.
The school's black and gold Terrible Thermometer began to rise Monday as children in fifth to eighth grade stacked their cans in the hallway.
If South Fayette collects more cans, the Green Bay principals will have to wear Steelers jerseys to school on Monday, and vice-versa.
The soup will go to the Bridgeville Area Food Bank and the Washington City Mission.
-- Andrea Iglar
• Students at West Allegheny Middle School and McKee Elementary School are combining their Super Bowl celebrations this week with community service projects to help replenish the shelves of the West Allegheny Food Pantry in Findlay.
The sixth-grade Shark Team is conducting a Souper Bowl event at the middle school. Students who donate a can of soup receive a ticket to see the movie "Remember the Titans" on Friday.
For McKee Elementary School's Souper Bowl, the student council is asking students and staff to donate a can of soup to benefit the West Allegheny Food Pantry. The goal is to collect more than 500 cans of soup.
Yoi and double yoi!
Bring your Terrible Towel and best Myron Cope invitation to Ross Park Mall's center court tonight and you might win a new television on which to watch the big game. Even if you don't, you can participate in a Steelers pep rally and Terrible Towel Wave.
The mall will host a Myron Cope impersonation contest from 6 to 8 p.m. Only 50 participants will be permitted to perform their imitations of the iconic Steelers broadcaster who was known for his shrill voice and for making up his own colorful vocabulary.
Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. and is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Each participant will be asked to announce a 60-second portion of a recent Steelers game, and they will be judged on verbal accuracy, appearance, creativeness and effectiveness of announcing the play.
The first-place winner will get a Samsung 42-inch plasma television provided by Sears and a copy of Mr. Cope's autobiography, "Myron Cope: Double Yoi," provided by the mall.
The second-place winner will receive an autographed and framed photo of Mr. Cope from Steel City Collectibles and a $200 Simon gift card from the mall.
Third place provides a Steelers Tiffany-style lamp, Steelers Helmet Heritage Banner, a Ben Roethlisberger limited edition photo with a piece of a game jersey and a 24 karat gold overlay Steelers medallion, all from Gallery in the Burgh.
The pep rally and Terrible Towel Wave will follow the competition.
-- Mary Niederberger
A large Steelers banner is being displayed near the T Station in Castle Shannon. A smaller Steelers banner hangs in a Marines barracks in Japan.
Both are the creation of Harry Munson of Castle Shannon.
Mr. Munson, a native of Pittsburgh and a Castle Shannon resident for 26 years, has some experience making banners. When the borough commissioned banners to commemorate Castle Shannon residents who have served in the military, Mr. Munson designed them.
The Steelers banner project began as a covert operation.
Mr. Munson's son, Lance Corporal Harry A. Munson IV, 23, has been stationed in Japan since August. When football season started, Mr. Munson said his son was feeling homesick for the Steelers.
Mr. Munson and his wife, Tami, decided to design a banner he could hang in his room.
The vinyl banner began as a small project, but as Mr. Munson added illustrations of the six Pittsburgh Super Bowl victories and images of coaches and players, past and present, it grew into a 27-foot by 3-foot banner -- too big for Mr. Munson to keep a secret. He told his son about his plan.
"He said, 'Dad, that's bigger than my room,' " Mr. Munson recalled.
So Mr. Munson made his son a smaller banner, 14 feet by 18 inches, and his son hung it across his room in Japan. A picture he sent his father shows that it dominates one entire wall.
"He went nuts," Mr. Munson said.
Unfortunately, though, Mr. Munson's son isn't sure he will be able to watch the Super Bowl because he was transferred last week to Thailand for the next part of his tour.
Mr. Munson hung the larger banner on his front porch. Toward the end of the football season, the borough asked the Munsons if the banner could be displayed in a more prominent place.
Mr. Munson allowed the borough to borrow his sign, and it now hangs near the Castle Shannon T stop.
"It doesn't have the seventh Super Bowl [victory] that they will have ... so I'm going to have to make another one," he said.
-- Kaitlynn Riely
A sense of history
Terrible towels and Roethlisberger jerseys aside, some Steelers fans surround themselves with mementoes of victories gone by to bolster their sense of destiny about Sunday's game.
Sharing shelf space with other Pittsburgh sports keepsakes in the basement of Richard Sismour's Cranberry home are three vintage Iron City beer cans, celebrating the 1978 and 1979 Super Bowl wins for the Steelers and legendary quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Each collectible can features photographs of the teams and the charismatic quarterback.
Mr. Sismour salvaged the cans from a case of Iron City purchased more than 30 years ago and they serve as reminders of the team's dominance during the Chuck Noll era.
"They were the team of the decade, and I knew they'd be real collector items," he said of the cans.
His awareness of the cans' worth, however, didn't prevent him from enjoying the contents. "I'm an Iron City fan, and they tasted great when I drank them," he said.
One can, featuring the 1980 Steelers Super Bowl winning team, triggers especially fond memories.
"I was 29 years old and about to get married," Mr. Sismour said, recalling when he traveled to Pasadena, Calif., for Super Bowl XIV in 1980.
Accompanied by his best man, Frank Buch, they cheered on the Steelers as the team defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 31-19. "We drove out in a little sports car and partied with many Steelers fans. It was a lot of fun."
Mr. Sismour recalled being surrounded by Steelers fans in a Pasadena resident's backyard. "All you could see was black and gold jerseys," he said. "Just goes to show that Steeler Nation was as alive and well [then] as it is now."
-- Jacob Flannick
Tiny Terrible Towels
At the Heinz History Center's annual Quilter's Weekend last month, Gloria Horn's display station was swarmed.
Ms. Horn, a veteran of the quilting show, used a Steelers theme to decorate her display table, where she demonstrated sewing machines and showed off other items.
Her exhibit became one of the more popular at the event, and her featured items -- Tiny Terrible Towel-imitation pins -- became hot items.
"I was just making them as fast as I could all day long," she said.
Ms. Horn has mixed embroidery and football before in her 28 years running the eponymous Gloria Horn Sewing Studios, with locations in Mt. Lebanon and Greensburg.
During the football season, she encourages her customers to do Steelers projects. The first time she made the Tiny Terrible Towel pins was in 2009, the last time the Steelers went to the Super Bowl.
Designed in homage to the Terrible Towel created by Myron Cope, the pins are a 3 1/2-inch by 1 1/4-inch piece of yellow felt embroidered with the words "The Terrible Towel" in black.
Ms. Horn uses scissors to cut the edges to give it a fringed appearance, then uses a mini-glue gun to attach the felt to a pin.
She can make 14 of them in about an hour.Last Super Bowl season, Ms. Horn gave the pins away for free. This year, in an attempt to control the demand, she charged $1.
But people still came up to her station at the Heinz History Center and asked for five, eight or 10 pins at a time, she said. Four separate groups of people, none of whom spoke English, also stopped by her table and conveyed through hand signals that they wanted several pins.
She said last week that she had sold 200, with requests for 50 more.
After the positive response at the Heinz History Center, Ms. Horn sent an e-mail to her regular customers, saying that they could get the embroidery design instructions and materials to make their own tiny Terrible Towel pins from her store.
E-mail requests for the instructions have flooded her inbox. "... we can't believe it," she said.
-- Kaitlynn Riely
Former Mt. Lebanon resident Aaron Shear takes the Scottish high road when it comes to being a Steelers fan.
He shows his Steelers pride Scottish style, donning a black and gold tartan kilt and playing a set of black bagpipes with gold rims while wearing a Steelers T-shirt.
His sporran -- the pouch on the front of a bagpiper's kilt that functions as a pocket -- is emblazoned with a Steelers logo medallion. Even his traditional Scottish socks are black and gold.
Mr. Shear, who worked for Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. in Robinson from 2001 to 2007, came up with his idea to honor the Steelers with his bagpipes when his company staged a Steelers Pride "tailgate" party at work on the Friday before Super Bowl XL.
"I surprised everyone with the kilt and bagpipes and was the highlight of the afternoon party," he said.
Combining his love of the bagpipes with his love of the Steelers came naturally for him.
He was born and raised in Upland, Calif. His mother is from Zelienople and his grandmother still lives there, so he grew up cheering for the Pittsburgh sports teams.
After taking bagpipe lessons in junior high and playing throughout high school at Upland High School -- home of the Highlanders -- Mr. Shear attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, where he performed with the Wooster Scot Marching Band. As part of the band uniform, they wore a yellow-and-black MacLeod tartan.
"People want to know where they can buy the kilt. They think it is an official NFL Steelers team item," he said.
Mr. Shear now works for the Environmental Protection Agency in Columbus, Ohio, where six or seven employees are Steelers fans. Each Friday during the playoffs, they have worn Steelers T-shirts or jerseys.
Mr. Shear said if he gets his supervisor's permission, he will show up with his bagpipes on Friday. For the occasion, he has been practicing a bagpipe version of the "Steelers Polka."
Practice time, though, is fraught with complications. His wife, Kristin, is a Browns fan.
-- Bob Podurgiel
Town center in the act
Cranberry's 100 or so employees at the Rochester Road municipal center got a jump on their Steelers celebrations last Thursday. Putting their own spin on painting the town red, many of the workers donned black and gold for the day and chipped in on a head-to-toe Steelers-themed dress-up of the "town center" area of the municipal center.
"We're calling it 'Cranberry Turns Black and Gold,' " said Cindy Marzock, communications and special events assistant.
She said the decision to capitalize on the Steelers' try for a seventh Super Bowl win is about more than having fun -- it's about bonding.
"We are all part of the Steeler Nation and we are all connected -- employees and residents alike," she said.
-- Karen Kane
The Steelers house
As Tom Santucci stands outside his Monroeville home, people driving by honk. He smiles and waves. Mr. Santucci and his home, known by many as the "Steelers House," have gained some measure of fame.
The front of his home, facing James Street, pays homage to the Steelers. In addition to the black-and-gold "Honk" sign, his yard is adorned with other signs and banners, including "Ben at Work" and "Welcome to the Steel Nation." In addition, black and gold ribbons, Terrible Towels and a life-size balloon Steelers figure are among the items in his front yard. Mr. Santucci, wearing a Steelers ball cap and jacket, spoke to the obvious.
"Yes, I would say that I'm a fanatic," he said. "This is all I ever wear -- black and gold. People ask, 'Don't you have anything else?' I say, 'Not really.' "
He began the yard display in 2005 and "got kind of carried way," adding more items, he said.
His wife doesn't object, he said.
"She has no problem with all of this stuff. She was a little upset with the house being painted. But she got used to it -- the black and gold bricks in the front."
His neighbors also are supportive, he said.
"They love it. Some guy wrote about my house in the [Monroeville] Times Express. He was complaining about my house. ... The next week, all my neighbors wrote to the paper backing me up."
The house also has become a landmark for drivers.
"People say, 'You know where the Steeler House is? Go past there and make a left.' People are always honking. That goes on all yearlong. If I go down to shovel or straighten something out, as soon as they see me, they start honking their heads off. I have people stopping all the time to take pictures. People will bring relatives in from out of town to check the house out."
Mr. Santucci said the reason his display is up all year is because the items are placed firmly into the ground. Typically, when the professional football season is over, Mr. Santucci includes a Pittsburgh Penguins piece, but he doesn't remove any of his Steelers stuff.
"Look how spoiled we are," Mr. Santucci said. "If we don't make it to the playoffs, it's like, 'What the heck, man?' How many cities don't have a championship? We're on the verge of getting number seven. No, I won't take [the display] down. Win or lose, I'm still a fan."
-- Anthony Todd Carlisle
Staff and youngsters at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pittsburgh want to show their counterparts in Green Bay what it means to be a real football fan.
On Saturday, the organization hosted a sign-making event for its volunteer mentors and their young "matches" at its East Liberty offices.
"We've got a lot of window space here. It's a very nice way to show Steeler support in the neighborhood," said Cheryl Jones, special services coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Photos and videos of the event will be sent to the Big Brother Big Sisters of Northeastern Wisconsin offices. The two staffs have been exchanging friendly banter and pictures about their enthusiasm for the past week.
"It's kind of funny, but there really are a lot of similarities between the two groups of fans. They are also very serious about their football," Ms. Jones said.
While challenging each other's level of devotion to hometown heroes, the two staffs placed a friendly wager that involves a gift basket with Green Bay goodies and most likely a picture of their staff waving Terrible Towels in front of the Vince Lombardi Trophy outside Green Bay's Lambeau Field.
"The Monday after the Steelers won the AFC championship, our vice president of programming, Tom Baker, called their office and threw down the challenge. They were very eager to take us up on it," Ms. Jones said.
And how will the Pittsburgh staff pay up if the unthinkable occurs? Not an issue.
-- Laurie Bailey
More reason to cheer
Children who are members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania will have extra incentive to cheer Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley on Sunday.
The Steelers regularly team up with the Boys & Girls Club for community initiatives, including the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania Dapper Dan Flag Football League and a program called the NFL Play 60. The Play 60 program links players with local Boys & Girls Clubs to encourage youngsters to take part in 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
This year, students at local Boys & Girls Clubs joined Mr. Woodley for Play 60 events, so they'll have more of a reason to cheer when they see him on the field in Dallas.
-- Deborah Todd
Off to Dallas
Two former Pittsburgh-area men are in Dallas, working on preparations for this year's Super Bowl halftime show featuring The Black Eyed Peas.
Travis Johnston, 26, of Shadyside, and Dan Caldwell, 27, of Mt. Washington, moved to Los Angeles early last month to supplement their experience in film production, although they eventually plan to return to the Pittsburgh area.
"I wanted to have the opportunity to work in the film business there," Mr. Johnston said of Los Angeles. "You don't get a lot of respect unless you work in California for a little bit."
The men grew up together, attended Hempfield Area High School and graduated from Point Park University in 2006.
Mr. Johnston, a union electrician with the Studio Mechanics Local 489, worked as a production assistant and lighting technician for a number of movies filmed in Pittsburgh, including "Abduction," "The Next Three Days" and "My Bloody Valentine."
He also worked for the company that produced the NFL Kickoff special at Point State Park in 2009, which also featured The Black Eyed Peas.
When it came time to begin Super Bowl preparations last year, the same company called on Mr. Johnston and Mr. Caldwell to travel to Miami and this year to Dallas.
Mr. Johnston will be working as a production assistant, while Mr. Caldwell is the site production coordinator for the halftime show.
Although the work is hard -- involving 12-hour days -- it's worth it to see the hometown team play in the Super Bowl, Mr. Johnston said.
"This year with the Steelers is going to be a lot more exciting than last year," he said.
-- Janice Crompton
At Fairview Elementary in the Fox Chapel Area School District, "Wardasaurus" greets students as they pass through the front doors.
The dinosaur statue at the school is dressed in Hines Ward's No. 86 jersey.
It was decorated by instructional assistant Eileen Schmidt to rev up excitement among the students, who will attend a Steelers pep rally this week.
Turns out "Wardasauras" isn't the only prehistoric Steelers fan in town.
"Lunasaurus Lux," or Lux for short, is at the offices of the Tickets for Kids children's charity at 139 Freeport Road in Aspinwall.
The prehistoric mascot is not just a fair-weather fan. He always cheers on the Steelers and Penguins, according to Vera Marelli, program director of the agency, which has been helping underprivileged children in the Tri-state area attend cultural events since 1994. The Tyrannosaurus Rex statue came to the agency in 2004 after Carnegie Library's "Dino Days."
Since then, staff has always made sure he's dressed for the weather -- and in support of the local team.
-- Rita Michel
Lots of region's schools have the spirit
Roger Wood, a resident of the Pine-Richland School District who has recorded the Steelers' fight song, "Here We Go," will be at Hance Elementary School for a mini-pep rally at 2:45 p.m. Friday.
He'll be joined by Wendy Wood, a singer on the "Here We Go" fight song and a Pine-Richland School District employee.
• The Carlynton High School marquee is sporting a spirited saying written by junior Jessica Grills of Crafton:
"Because winning never gets old, Carlynton supports the Black and Gold."
Jessica won a $25 iTunes gift card for her efforts.
-- Kim Lawrence
• Crafton Elementary School students cut out black letters that spell out "Go Steelers."
Installed in the second-floor windows of the school in the Carlynton School District, the letters are backed by gold cellophane and the lights are left on at night so the message glows in gold and black.
-- Linda Wilson Fuoco
• Pupils at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School in Zelienople have been showing their support for the team all week.
On Tuesday, they wore T-shirts proclaiming their favorite player or their support of the team as a whole. Wednesday was Game Face Day, in which they could decorate their faces in team colors or practice a particularly ferocious grimace for Green Bay.
Today is Terrible Towel Thursday, with each class vying for 100 percent participation. On Friday, the students will don as much "Steelerphenalia" as possible.
• Art teacher Marian Day had students in K-12 in the Cornell School District make almost-life-sized cutouts of football players wearing Steelers uniforms and numbers.
About 20 of them line the school hallway.
-- Linda Wilson Fuoco
• The Thomas Jefferson High School band played a special performance for the Steelers pep rally Friday night at Heinz Field.
And band members were perfectly dressed in their uniforms, which are black and gold -- the Thomas Jefferson school colors.