Salesperson: “This is your first Terrible Towel?”
With that, I felt officially inducted into the Steeler Nation. But that was the extent of my visual membership. Not everyone follows this less is more approach.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a Steelers fan for a long time. So long, in fact, that I remember cheering for the team in the late 70s while my sister successfully annoyed me by rooting for Terry “Baldshaw.”
Still wondering what a Terrible Towel is? “The Terrible Towel was the brainchild of former Steelers radio announcer Myron Cope during the playoffs in 1975 and helped provide the magic touch as the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl X over the Dallas Cowboys.” A Super Bowl win is always sweet. Over the Cowboys? Even better.
There’s an added benefit to the Terrible Towel. A portion of sales benefits a local nonprofit that provides care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. That makes me want to wave my towel even more.
I’m not the only one. The Terrible Towel has quite the following. It’s been used to wrap newborn babies, twirled at wedding receptions, waved at the Great Wall of China, and even flown at the International Space Station.
If you’re familiar with Pittsburgh, you know the city is known for this level of sports fanaticism. And it’s not just the Steelers. There are many other great teams, including the Penguins, who just won the Stanley Cup two years in a row. Pittsburgh also has a reputation of being a blue collar city, with its past driven by coal, iron, and steel.
But that’s the old Pittsburgh. In the new Pittsburgh, health care, higher education, and technology drive the city. “As of 2012, one in five private sector employees worked for a health services business.”
The new Pittsburgh also offers a tremendous variety of culinary and cultural options. My visit was driven by food, wine, and arts and crafts. I found all this in the Strip District alone. I ventured through Greek, Italian, Mexican, and Asian markets. I found a chocolate store that offered local and international confections. I tasted wines from an urban winery. And I tried traditional and inventive popcorn concoctions.
The next day, I enjoyed a tasting and slushie at a local cidery, a Slovenian sparkler at a wine bar, and a bottle of white Rioja at a Thai restaurant. During my trip, there was another visit to a winery—this time outside of the city, another Thai meal, explorations at two open-air art and craft markets, and stops at fun stores. And, most important, time with two friends.
Having been to Pittsburgh years before, I’d already experienced some of the city favorites—like seeing the Andy Warhol Museum and riding the Duquesne Incline. But even during this latest visit, I only scratched the surface of fun things to do. I’ve already started making a list for my return.
To many, Pittsburgh still has the reputation of the Steel City. But the explosion of accolades tells a different story—a city that’s affordable, fun, friendly, active, and livable. I’ll wave my Terrible Towel for that.