Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants people to know — once and for all — the beard is staying.
At least until the Penguins finish their season.
For a mayor who commands national attention, whether it be for riding in a self-driving Uber, his response to the shooting of an unarmed black teenager outside the city limits or the messages of unity, strength and resilience he delivered after a gunman killed 11 inside a Squirrel Hill synagogue, Peduto’s beard appears to be the talk of the town.
Peduto said the beard has become as controversial as the city bike lanes, and he can’t figure out why.
It’s not his first and probably won’t be his last. He said the subject is second only to a question of how he can have a jet black hair and a beard that is white.
“The two tone, that’s the thing,” the mayor said. “It’s like, ‘Do you dye your hair?’ No, I don’t dye my hair. I’ve never dyed my hair. I wouldn’t even know how to dye my hair. Look at these roots. Do you think I dye (them) from the inside out?”
The Pedutos are a two-toned bunch, the mayor said. His dad never had gray hair past his temples. His brother’s beard was white while his hair was dark.
“It’s just the way the Pedutos are,” he said.
People chatter about it on social media and ask him about it in public.
Peduto could be the only bearded mayor since the 1800s. Most of the 59 mayors who served before him were beardless, according to photographs displayed on walls the Mayor’s Office. None who served in the 20th and 21st centuries were photographed with beards in their official portrait.
Peduto has grown beards in the past for Penguin playoff runs and trips to Europe.
This one came in August as he was enjoying 10 days off at his Point Breeze home.
“I just didn’t shave for those 10 days,” he said.
He planned on getting rid of it before participating in the Labor Day parade, but slept in that morning.
“I decided to keep it,” he said. “I think basically to mess with trolls on Twitter is probably the primary reason. The other part is I like it, even though it’s more controversial than bike lanes.”
Plus, he said, it has advantages: He can stroke it while thinking, and it hides multiple chins.
“I will keep it as long as the Penguins are playing,” Peduto said.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.