Highland Park mystified by 'ritualistic' offering of food surrounding a tree
Highland Park holds a mystery.
Neighborhood residents have wondered for years about plates of food that appear periodically in a circular pattern around a tree near a trail that begins at Mellon and Bunkerhill streets.
No one has seen who puts out the meals. They seem to appear overnight. City officials who maintain the East End park are as puzzled as the residents.
“I have no idea what the reasoning behind it might be,” said Linda Vicaro, 32, who has noticed the plates at least a half-dozen times while walking in the park over the past few years. “At first, you see all these plates and you say, ‘Oh, some jerk left all this trash here after picnicking in the park.'
“It appears very ritualistic. It's always the same way.”
Residents said each foam plate — as many as 20 of them — typically holds something different, such as chicken and mashed potatoes, rice, sandwiches and sauted vegetables.
Vicaro said she posted an email on a community message board and received numerous responses from people who have seen the plates. Nobody could offer an explanation.
“We thought maybe it was because of the solstice or some other mythological meaning, but we could never really come up with anything,” said Don Carlson, 63. “It's not all that offensive except for the litter thing.”
Residents said the plates eventually blow away or get chopped up when city workers cut the grass.
Nathaniel Hanson, spokesman for Councilman Patrick Dowd of Highland Park, said his office has received queries from neighbors but cannot offer an explanation.
City Operations Director Duane Ashley, who oversees city parks, said park supervisors were unaware of the situation when he asked them about it on Thursday.
“That looks like some ritualistic stuff,” he said after viewing a photograph of the plates.
Vicaro said the plates are more of a curiosity than a neighborhood worry.
“A full plate of food does seem like some kind of offering,” she said. “Being in a circle. Full plates of food. Maybe it's to the tree gods.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Pittsburgh schools chief Lane stepping down next summer
- Newsmaker: Pete DiNardo
- West Jefferson Hills schools close because of gun threat
- Construction to close roads in O’Hara, Baldwin Borough
- Saudi King Salman assured on Iran nuclear deal in U.S. trip
- Belle Vernon woman visits ship like lander she helped build as WWII welder
- Risks don’t get any better as online dating prospers
- Embezzled $14.8M could cause woes for North Side firm Matthews International
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of state fishing licenses
- 2 Brentwood council members keep positions, council approves third resignation