Reasons to be Thankful for Pittsburgh in 2016

Reasons to be Thankful for Pittsburgh in 2016

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude."

So says the apt quote by American author, journalist and minister E.P. Powell. In the spirit of Powell, who had to have said this more than 100 years ago given that he died in 1915, I give to you 10 reasons to be thankful for Pittsburgh in 2016.

Thanks to all the risk-taking restaurateurs for creating the amazingly awesome and decidedly delicious restaurant scene here...I'm thankful I had the opportunity to dine at Morcilla, Station, Whitfield, Gaucho Parrilla Argentina and Smallman Galley.

Thanks for the incredibly smart and imaginative Re:NEW Festival and with it the uber cool North American premiere of Drap Art inside the PPG Wintergarden. It was out-of-this-world art made from recycled materials that had us exclaiming aloud, "LOOK AT THIS! CHECK THIS OUT! LOOKIE HERE!" Special shout out to the wonderful Wild & Scenic Film Festival, which was part of the Re:NEW Fest. For a good chuckle, check out the 90-second "Nature RX Part 1" ad that was screened as part of the film fest.

Uber Self-Driving Car

Speaking of uber cool...Thanks to Uber for selecting Pittsburgh to test out its self-driving vehicles. I'm particularly grateful that Uber programmers have taken seriously the "Pittsburgh Left." Check out this piece that aired on NPR about how Uber cars will have to learn Pittsburgh's "quirky customs like the so-called Pittsburgh left turn: When cars are at a traffic light, the light turns green, and you are the first car in line that wants to turn left, he explains, "you basically get to [go] first, before vehicles going straight from the opposite direction." It's only the first left-turning car — not the others, just the first. And yes, the self-driving car is being programmed to accept the quirky Pittsburgh left.

Thanks Oxford Dictionary for officially accepting the word "jagoff" into your dictionary. The efforts of many, including Mayor Bill Peduto, championed for this special Pittsburgh word to be dictionary bonafide. And now, Oxford defines it thusly: "(chiefly in western Pennsylvania) a stupid, irritating, or contemptible person." Yup.

Live at the Mountain Stage

Thanks to back-to-back shows at the Byham Theater in the Cultural District to get my culture in. First up with my husband, aka Sports Boy, it's "Live at the Mountain Stage" to see Billy Bragg, Joe Henry and friends for an amazing night of music being broadcast live on national radio. Then, same venue, two nights later, it's with my grandson to watch his favorite musical performers, The Wiggles. Never mind the live aspect of the performance totally freaked out two-year-old Jack, and we watched much of the live show on closed circuit TV in the lobby. It was surely a memory and a lesson: Never underestimate the unpredictability of a two-year-old, but always appreciate the understanding ushers at the Byham who tried to help out the crying toddler and his family.

Sid Crosby Hoists the Stanley Cup at the Victory Parade

Serious big thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins for bringing the Stanley Cup home to Pittsburgh...And for appreciating the fans enough to put up outdoor screens so fans without tickets could still be a part of the action...And thanks to the estimated 400,000 give or take of the amazing record-setting crowd at the ensuing Victory Parade. Wow, wow, wow!

Local brewery The Brew Gentlemen

Thanks to the group of serious beer lovers who are floating the idea of starting a Pittsburgh beer museum – and I don't even like beer, but it seems everyone else in the world does and this would be a way cool thing for the city. Cheers to that happening!

Thanks for our beautiful, beautiful, beautiful bridges. Together, they are one of the things I love most about Pittsburgh.

Andy Warhol | Ai Wei Wei Exhibit

Thanks to The Andy Warhol Museum and The Frick for the marvelous Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei and Killer Heels exhibits, respectively. Amazing art. Amazing opportunity to hear Ai Weiwei in person at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. And to see seriously wild, exotic and gravity-defying shoes up close and in person, as I wore my comfy killer flats, was simply an amazing visual treat.

Oakmont Country Club during the 2016 U.S. Open

Thanks to the U.S. Golf Association for announcing on Father's Day during the 2016 U.S. Open in Pittsburgh that they are coming back to Oakmont Country Club for more championship golf in 2025. Hearing the news that the U.S. Open will be back to Oakmont for a record 10th time while watching action being played on the seventh hole was pretty special.

And because, one cannot be too grateful, I present two more bonus items for which I am grateful.

Thanks WYEP for allowing us to see and hear Mike Doughty (of Soul Coughing fame) up close in the beautifully intimate performance space of Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District. And a free member show? Like Doughty said that evening: We are lucky to have WYEP in this town. And, we seriously are!

One of Many Bicentennial Parade Floats

Thanks to the organizers behind the Pittsburgh Bicentennial Parade - and the 400+ descendants of former Pittsburgh mayors who came from near and far to participate...And thanks to the 2,000 participants from divergent groups from throughout the region who participated in this amazingly parade. This was one seriously long, seriously cool, seriously inclusive parade...Sports Boy and I were honored to be a part of it by volunteering a few hours of our time.

To be sure, there's much, much more for me to be grateful for. But, come Thanksgiving, I will not be leaving out the gratitude as I pass the stuffing – my favorite part of the meal, for which I am, and will always be, eternally grateful.