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1968 rocks at Heinz History Center

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Andy Masich, Emily Ruby and Clyde Jones during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review
Janis Joplin with Rich Kundman during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review
Kathy Testoni, Beverlynn Elliott and Peggy Snavely during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review
Sasha Mirzoyan, Stephanie Oliver and Chad Norris with during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review
Ethan Nicholas and Carl Dozzi with during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review
Tom and Becky McGough during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review
Debbie and Mike Barbarita during the 1968: The Year That Rocked America preview party at the Heinz History Center on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review

On Thursday, life took on a kid-in-a-candy-store kinda feeling for the VIPs invited to officially christen the Heinz History Center's “1968: The Year That Rocked America” exhibit during a preview party hosted by co-chairs Kathy Testoni, Beverlynn Elliott and Peggy Snavely.

“Some of you were hip and made history ... others were just a gleam in your parents' eyes,” CEO Andy Masich observed.

Embracing the trip back in time, more than a few guests arrived in period ensembles “I want you to know this is original,” offered Rich Kundman, pointing to his vintage boots and shirt, while others admittedly missed the boat.

“I couldn't find (my bell bottoms) any place,” Masich continued.

Equally compelling as it is breezy fun, every inch of the 8,000-square-foot traveling exhibition grabbed a hold of all five senses as guests were transported back in time, one of the most jaw-dropping artifacts being an actual Bell UH-1H “Huey” helicopter used in the Vietnam War, the largest item ever displayed inside the History Center with an exhibit.

“It came in pieces,” assistant curator and project manager Emily Ruby said. “We had 25 Vietnam vets come in to help put it together.”

Throughout the evening, the stories were coming fast and furious as a collective trip down memory lane for the likes of Clyde Jones and Sam Badger, Tom and Becky McGough, Catherine Loevner, Jackie Dixon, Drs. Loren andEllen Roth, Ethan Nicholas, Carl Dozzi, Sasha Mirzoyan, Stephanie Oliver,and Chad Norris, although the artifacts didn't always illicit happy thoughts.

“What it did was make me feel old!” laughed Debbie Barbarita as she made her way outside with her husband, Mike.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kbenz@tribweb.com or 412-380-8515.

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