a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pittsburgh is papered in black and gold

Black and gold confetti spills onto Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh's Strip District as Steelers fans engage in a Steelers merchandise shopping frenzy the day before the city would play in Super Bowl XLV. (Scott Beveridge photo)

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH – It rained black and gold today in Pittsburgh’s Strip District on the afternoon before the home football team would play in Super Bowl XLV.

The Steelers colors falling from the sky came from fans shooting confetti canons over the popular city’s ethnic market district.

Among its stores carrying such food as pierogies, biscotti and Vietnamese rice stick, are others stocked with cheap Steelers merchandise, including T-Shirts bearing any number of clever phrases.

“Long sleeve, hoodies, short sleeve,” yelled one guy selling clothes from a sidewalk table alongside Penn Avenue and near Prestogeorge, a purveyor of the finest coffee roasted in southwestern Pennsylvania.

One pile of yellow Pittsburgh T-Shirts were silkscreened with, “REV’N FOR SEVEN,” the number of Super Bowl trophies the Steelers would have if they win the upcoming game against the Green Bay Packers. Other shirts there showed the heavily-bearded face of Brett “The Diesel” Keisel, whose famous facial hair has its own Facebook page.

Across the street another salesman had shirts with that well-known Photoshopped image of a young boy giving the middle finger. The wording across the front and back of those shirts was too offensive to repeat here.

But, tacky comes easy to Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

“You say, ‘Y’all,’ we say ‘Yinz,’” a young woman was overheard saying to a Southern visitor, while explaining the local hillbilly dialect known as Pittsburghese.

Not too far away a man wearing a black-and-gold spiked wig sat counting handfuls of cash, his bootie from the day’s sales. Another merchant stood the door to his overflowing Steelers store to force customers to use the side door to keep the foot traffic flowing in the right direction.

“You need to make a U-turn,” he said to the crowd of people, some of whom needed to walk in traffic because the sidewalk was jammed tight with shoppers.

Another young female, with her cell phone to hear ear, was talking about some shirts she had eyed on the sidewalk.

“There’s a shirt here that says, ‘I’m an Italian Steelers fan,’” she said to the other person on the line.

Steelers fans will buy anything in the colors worn by their pigskin sports legends, ranging from Myron Pottios to Terry Bradshaw.

The confetti canons sold out quickly, leaving many shoppers disappointed in the rain-slicked streets where parked vehicles were papered in black and yellow. Another vendor couldn’t weave his ribbon wreaths in those high-holy colors fast enough to keep up with the demand for them.

“It’s unbelievable, really unbelievable,” he said while working this black and gold mine.

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