Ward's fiancee, friends successfully keep party a surprise
When planning a surprise party of any kind, it's always good to know who can keep a secret.
Especially when it comes to pulling it off for one of the most beloved alumni of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It's hard!” said Lindsey Georgalas, Hines Ward's fiancee. “We're glued at the hip, so I was stressed about it. He thinks we're here to do this autograph party.”
The “here” in the equation was the Rivers Casino, where an unsuspecting Ward thought he was engaged for a meet-and-greet Aug. 9 with Casino VIPs in the Wheelhouse. Unbeknownst to him, 200 more guests were waiting in the wings up in the banquet room, ready to pounce on No. 86 for what was being pegged as The Official Retirement Party.
“Pittsburgh was always a home away from home for him,” said Ward's manager, Andy Ree, co-conspirator with Georgalas. “He bleeds black and gold.”
Those thinking it odd that such a celebration was coming a year after his retirement were quick to reconcile with the idea once they were told that, apparently, the man had never been given a retirement party.
Better late than never.
And so it goes that, after the crowd was hushed and ready, the 10-9-8 ... countdown began, although a do-over was necessary in order to time Ward's entrance into the room so confetti guns could shoot gold streamers into the air.
And then, the moment of truth. Success.
Noticeably absent were top brass of the Steelers and many former teammates, but that familiar and iconic smile seemed to indicate that he was indeed, happy, surprised, and if nothing else, taking it all in with an effortless stride.
“It's always good to be here in Pittsburgh,” Ward said. “It's always a blessing to be able to come back to a city and get a warm reception. It makes me feel good inside.”
Spotted were Steelers alums Aaron Smith, Franco Harris (with Dana) and Mel Blount (with TiAnda); Thomas Tull, Rivers VP of Human Resources Andre Barnabei and Assistant GM Bud Green, Dan Gilman and Amanda Kennedy; Sally Wiggin; Bob, Lisa and Celina Pompeani; Alby Oxenreiter; and David Caliguiri.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.