Familes observe different traditions at Renzie Park
Every Fourth of July, McKeesport's Renziehausen Park is filled with friends and families celebrating not only the nation's independence, but their own traditions.
The Rybka family reunion some 60 years ago started a gathering that would last generations.
In the early years they convened on any spot of grass in the park, before moving to the Junto Pavilion. After a number of years they made it to No. 1 Pavilion near Lake Emilie.
Lillian Boyle of Versailles said her parents and grandparents started it, and four generations were on hand for Friday's party at No. 1.
“I'm blessed, absolutely blessed to see the family together and to carry on this tradition,” Boyle said. “We were Grandviewers. I grew up right up the hill. My husband (Tom Boyle) grew up in Chickieville (Hall Park).”
“We had to fight to get this (pavilion),” Tom Boyle said. “Once you get it, you have an annual affair ... We got kids. We got grandkids as far as the people coming. We grew up in Renzie, really. It used to have a swimming pool and the fireworks on the ball field. The biggest thing we miss are the ground fireworks. They used to have these ships and planes doing a fight and would have the American flag in fireworks. The thing for us is always the finale.”
The Boyles' nephew, Chuck Berkley of Elizabeth Township, secured the pavilion this year. He spent a good part of the day cooking on the grill and making sure others were having a good time.
“Everybody's located around here,” Berkley said, explaining that 50-75 people gather each year at Renzie Park. “I inherited the cooking duties from my father, Chuck (Berkley Sr.). I just do burgers and dogs. My sister does corn and wings over there. It's a good year this year. Not too hot.”
Folks enjoyed homemade haluski and rigatoni, and the family organized games for the children.
McKeesport couple Dave and Danielle Daley celebrated their family's sixth Independence Day cookout at Junto Pavilion.
“It's a beautiful park. It's close to home and it's right within everybody's driving distance,” Danielle Daley said. “This is his Christmas. Dave loves this holiday.”
“I don't have to buy presents, just celebrate,” Dave Daley said. “I'd say probably 50 (people come). We still got more people coming.”
Dave Daley remembered the first Fourth of July family celebration being on a Friday, much like this year.
“The day after we didn't have to work. I just said, ‘Let's try to get a pavilion,'” he said. “It's becoming a tradition. We're going to have to get a banner next year.”
Danielle Daley's linguine salad has become the most requested food at her family gatherings.
“I added cheese and pepperoni and it is excellent,” Danielle Daley said.
Tahjaire Ross, 9, of Brentwood, and some of his relatives celebrated with the Daleys.
He and some friends went to see ducks in the park.
Tahjaire said his favorite part about the holiday is “dressing up in red, white and blue to honor the people who died” and seeing fireworks.
“I like loud things and sparkles,” Tahjaire said. “I like loud sounds.”
The city's own Independence Day tradition is to have live entertainment at the Lions Bandshell and fireworks that can be seen from the park and surrounding neighborhoods.
“It's a great tradition. It's nice to see families come out here and enjoy such a nice park system,” city Councilman Dan Carr said.
The summer concert series, sponsored by the McKeesport Lions Club, the city and the Allegheny Regional Asset District, brought Treasure to the band shell stage on Friday night to perform hits from the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
Patti and Bruce Marcus of North Versailles Township have a different way of commemorating Independence Day.
The couple will be married for 36 years come August, and they like to visit new locations every year. They feel there's no better way to celebrate the nation than to go out and see it.
“You get to see a lot of different people and customs,” Bruce Marcus said. “We're not always in Pittsburgh either. We go to Atlanta. We go to Miami, Detroit. Wherever we're at on the Fourth of July, we go to a park. We've been all over. Pittsburgh (has) a way that people treat you. Nobody's a stranger or snobby.
“Pittsburgh has so many different parks. People don't take advantage of the parks. It's a shame. Some places you got to drive three or four hours to get to a park. Here you have a park every time you turn a red light.”
This was their first time in Renziehausen Park. Approximately 50 friends and family members joined them.
“We were the first people in the park this morning, and we are celebrating the birthday of our country,” Patti Marcus said. “We decided to come to beautiful Renzie Park. Last year we were at Highland Park. We're different kind of people. We want to spread our love. We came here also for the band Treasure ... We always have our tents. We don't really rent pavilions because we're not really sure where we're going to go every year. So we always go to parks and we make our own pavilion. We bring our own grills and bring our own tents and it's all good. We try to make it comfortable for everyone.”
Bruce Marcus said his family's favorite holiday foods are ribs, chicken and various salads.
Patti Marcus' first cousin Marian Todd recently moved back to Allegheny County after living in Atlanta for 37 years.
“It's actually a joy (to be back),” Todd said. “Easy living. I came here to retire ... In Atlanta we would have picnics in Stone Mountain Park ... They don't have the parks like they do here. I'm enjoying it (here). It's a pleasure to be back.”
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.