We all tend to fall back on traditions — the stuff we’ve always done — when it comes to holidays. Think about Thanksgiving. Your family has that special dish you can’t live without, right? You eat at the same time, with the same people. The comfort in those routines goes well beyond just the comfort food on the table.
But things change, even around holidays like Thanksgiving. It might be modern grocery stores replacing the Fort Pitt Butter Company’s fresh turkeys in the Diamond Market. It might be moving the focus of Black Friday — before it was called “Black Friday” — from our Downtown department stores to suburban shopping malls. And it might be the most unusual of circumstances — a Thanksgiving weekend blizzard — that forced Pittsburgh to alter its holiday routine.
Here are a handful of images from Pittsburgh Thanksgivings past: Our traditions that we still hold dear, and the ones that have changed over the decades. Dig in.
Workin’ for turkey
Players walk off of the muddy football field behind the Fort Pitt Elementary School in Garfield at the end of the 2007 Turkey Bowl, a neighborhood football game played every Thanksgiving. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)
Andrea Vargo, West Mifflin, left, and D.J. Kracinovsky, right, get close to the finish line of the 2014 YMCA Turkey Trot. (John Heller/Post-Gazette)
Exercise and Thanksgiving go hand-in-hand for some.
Dorothy Kennedy traces the hand of Jared Glatz, 5 as they make a paper turkey. Jared and his classmates from Highcliff Elementary School visited Manor Care Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ross for a Thanksgiving program. (Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette)
Brittany McNeill,of Homewood, gets creative during a Thanksgiving crafts session for children, where they were pasting together pilgrims and turkeys, at C.C. Mellor Library, Edgewood, in 1997. (Robert J. Pavuchak/Post-Gazette)
Waiting for a special lunch can be frustrating especially when it is a Thanksgiving feast but Gina Bao, 4, of Monroeville was able to pass the time adjusting her indian headband and then making a funny face in 2000. (Post-Gazette)
An elementary-school rite of passage: Getting wound up for the holidays.
A holiday hand
Central Christian Academy students form a chain to unload supplies for an Operation Drumstick Thanksgiving food collection at Washington City Mission in 2003. (Robert J. Pavuchak/Post-Gazette)
Daniel Smaglo, of Baldwin Township, takes sticks of butter out of their one pound boxes for the 1,060 baskets with food for Thanksgiving dinners on the North Side in 2017. (Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)
Helping with food drives has been a tradition for as long as people have needed a hand.
Downtown shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving in 1974. (Pittsburgh Press)
Nate Murano and Kent Diasabeygunawardena of the North Side load up a 55-inch TV from Best Buy in Ross on Black Friday 2014. (Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)
It has a different name and a different focus — suburban malls vs. Downtown stores — but shopping on the day after feasting is by no means a recent development.
The storm forced the postponement of Pitt’s annual game with Penn State. (Pittsburgh Press)
Yes, that’s a Sherman tank freeing a truck from the snow. (Post-Gazette)
The Boulevard of the Allies was deserted on the weekend after the storm. (Pittsburgh Press)
The day after Thanksgiving in 1950 was remarkable not for sales in the department stores, but for the weather — a blizzard swept through and dropped 31 inches of snow, effectively shutting down pretty much everything for several days.
Happy Thanksgiving, from Pittsburgh’s first family