LAST WEEK was one for anniversaries — the 150th remembrance of the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22. Both presidents visited Pittsburgh during their lifetimes, and the Gettysburg Address took place in Pennsylvania, lending the story some local details unfamiliar to national audiences. For example, the Post-Gazette’s illustrious ancestor, The Daily Pittsburgh Gazette, had a reporter at the address. Unlike the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, which at the time chided Lincoln’s “silly remarks” and this month apologized for its old misjudgment, the Gazette got the significance of the event right, as the Post-Gazette’s Len Barcousky reports. In 1863 the Gazette was the city’s leading Republican paper. Its correspondent wrote that Lincoln’s speech was interrupted by applause and that “A powerful impression was made this day upon the nation.” Phew, no correction/clarification necessary.
PITTSBURGH had one of its own anniversaries last week. On Nov. 20, 1938, the University of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Memorial Chapel was dedicated, and to celebrate that 75th anniversary a throng of married couples were scheduled to gather there Saturday — the scene of 200 weddings a year — to renew their vows. For the anniversary, a Lego artist, Jason Burik, built a 26-and-a-half-inch tall model of the building, which soars 253 feet above Pitt’s campus. The model is the prize in a raffle that should have appeal. While Legos are child’s play, fondness for the chapel is shared by Pittsburghers of all ages.
LIGHT UP NIGHT was celebrated in Pittsburgh Friday and Thanksgiving is this week, then the holiday sleigh slides forward merrily to Christmas and New Year’s. In Kennett Square, Pa., they are looking forward to New Year’s Eve because that’s when a 700-pound stainless steel mushroom will be lowered from a crane to ring in 2014. This is not crazy: Kennett Square calls itself the mushroom capital of the world, with its farms producing about half of the nation’s mushrooms. It’s the old story — the party doesn’t start until the fun guy arrives, or, fungi, as the case may be.