Unusual Events and Things Good to Know in Pittsburgh

This month: The Steel City Reptile Expo, overdue steel city comebacks, and area teens make TV about making TV.

photo courtesy of steel city reptile expo

#Unusual Events

Each month, PM asks contributor Amy Whipple to attend an out-of-the-ordinary happening somewhere in the city.

What: Steel City Reptile Expo
Where: Iceoplex at Southpointe
​When: March 12

When was the last time you had the opportunity to take a selfie with a 9-foot-long albino Burmese python named Elmer?
Never, you say?

You can change that by paying a visit to the Steel City Reptile Expo (steelcityreptileexpo.com), held six times a year at the Iceoplex at Southpointe.

The Expo offers a range of main-stage events that range from entertaining (lizard races) to practical (proper terrarium lighting for those lizards when they’re not racing). Vendors offer the same range — practical (everything for the care and feeding of the thousands of reptiles, many of which are for sale at the expo) to entertaining (if you’re of the mind that watching pet tarantulas crawl about is, in fact, entertaining).

Even for one such as I — terrified of reptiles — the event wasn’t nearly as unsettling as I expected. Plenty of families were having a great time (many of them carried their pets from home). And there were plenty of kids who, like my son, did not appear to possess the gene for fear. As kids in general are tactile creatures, the expo’s petting zoo provides them with wonderful opportunities to, say, feel the way an anole’s skin slips across its tiny skeleton as it also skids beneath their fingertips.

Reasonably priced ($6 for adults, $3 for children and free for those under 2) and relatively accessible from the city, this is a fine rainy-Saturday-afternoon outing for adventurous families.


photo via flickr creative commons

#Why Stop There?

Overdue steel city comebacks
It’s a summer of returns in the city of Pittsburgh. Kennywood is renovating Noah’s Ark to look more like its previous incarnation (with the squishy whale’s tongue), Idlewild’s Story Book Forest features an Enchanted Castle for the first time since 1996 and Guns N’ Roses are playing a stadium show. With triumphant revivals in the air, here’s a few other things we’d like to see make a ’Burgh comeback.


  • Former Pierogi Race Competitor Potato Pete (The more anthropomorphic foodstuffs, the better.)
  • Water Events at the Three Rivers Regatta (The other stuff is fun, but weather-mandated cancellation of river activities in 2015 basically reduced the regatta to an oddly located county fair.)
  • The King’s Family Restaurant Frownie Brownie (The Smiley Cookie requires a surly rival! That brownie was the Joker to Eat’n Park’s Batman!)
  • Jaromir Jagr (Not necessarily to play hockey. I just want to find him randomly partying on East Carson Street from time to time.)


#Explain it for Us

On March 26, “topfreedom” blogger Chelsea Covington and a friend tossed a Frisbee and relaxed, bare-chested, in Frick Park. Covington’s blog, Breasts Are Healthy (breastsarehealthy.wordpress.com), explores the topic of public female toplessness and supports the movement to de-sexualize the sight of female breasts. Covington contacted the City of Pittsburgh Law Department and confirmed that public female bare-chestedness is legal in Pennsylvania. Before entering the park, the women notified police of their intentions. We asked Covington: How do you hope to contribute to the “topfreedom” movement?

“My particular passion is to reduce people’s fears and anxieties [concerning] the female breast by appearing publicly bare-chested in a non-confrontational way, doing normal things. No signs. No chants. No protests. I walk, ride my bike [and] play Frisbee. That’s all,” she said.


#Area Teens Make TV … About Making TV

Carl Kurlander, president and CEO of the Steeltown Entertainment Project (steeltown.org), produced and wrote movies and television shows in Los Angeles for two decades. So it’s with some weight that he says that “The Reel Teens: Pittsburgh,” a documentary-style show created by students in Steeltown’s youth in media program, is “the best show I’ve ever been involved in.” The series, airing once per month on WPGH Fox 53 and on thereelteens.com, shows the young filmmakers — who also work as part of Steeltown’s teen film crew — visiting notable places and people around town, such as special-effects studio Tolin FX and the Carrie Furnace. The resulting segments aren’t the whole story; each episode also serves as its own making-of special, as the teens not only discuss their subjects but also the process of learning to make a TV show. “The real stars of the show are the kids themselves — 17 kids from a huge variety of backgrounds,” Kurlander says. Tune in to Fox 53 at 9 a.m. on May 7 as the Reel Teens visit Google’s Bakery Square offices for a rare look inside one of the most envied workspaces in Pittsburgh.




Actor Denzel Washington took a break from preproduction on his upcoming film adaptation of “Fences” to watch the local finals of the August Wilson Monologue competition, held March 14 at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.


Categories: Things To Do