Video of the '93 blizzard from WPXI.
Video of the '93 blizzard from WTAE
Wow, the Blizzard of '93! Here's my story. I was the Assistant Manager of the McDonald's in Olympia Shopping Center, McKeesport. We closed up and left for the night, and I started my drive home to Penn Hills, where I lived with my parents. I spun my car around in the snow and hit the guardrail. Not too much damage, but at that point I knew I wouldn't make it home. I decided to stay at one the cheap (no-tell) hotels on Rt. 30. After convincing the lady behind the desk that I w as really alone and just needed somewhere to stay the night and get out of the blizzard, and after getting in my room, I began hearing some strange whining, cat-like noise. 'Someone is getting real kinky,' I thought.
When I opened the door, a little kitten was just standing there, meowing. When I called to kitty he walked right in to my room. I petted kitty most of the night and told myself jokes about getting....(another word for cat)...in a cheap hotel. When I woke up in the morning, kitty was sleeping near my feet. My first thought was about cleaning off my car and trying to get home. My second thought: what am I going to do with kitty -since I still lived at home with my parents, and wasn't sure how they'd react to having another cat. I quickly decided that kitty was coming home with me. But kitty had other plans.
While opening the car door while shoveling the mountain of snow off, kitty ran off. I dug out the car, and made my super-slow, slippery ride home. I told my dad the story, and I said that I almost brought a cat home, but he ran off. My dad said, "The cat was just like you and just needed somewhere to stay for the night to get out of the blizzard."
That's my Blizzard of '93 story
Jeffrey Kearney,Penn Hills, PA.
Dear Friends at P.I.,
I've marched in the parade for many years with the Allegheny County Police. We march near the very front of the parade and it's always been a great thrill that I look forward to. I love to see the kids, the lovely dogs, the dancers and all of the beautiful Irish folks. It's a special thrill to see my friends in the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry marching with the green battle flag. I had two Irish ancestors who fought in the Civil War and it's always moving to me to see them pass by. For the past few years my oldest son, Grant, has marched with us, dressed in his own police uniform we put together for him.
I wish I had a dramatic story about 1993 like some of the others I've read. I woke up early that morning and took a look outside. To my shock it resembled a scene from the movie 'Dr. Zhivago'. I thought to myself "The parade's cancelled for sure." and fell back into bed. How I underestimated the Pittsburgh Irish sense of determination! When I saw the pictures from the parade later I was stunned, then felt a bit ashamed for being so easily intimidated by the weather.
Later that weekend I received a call from my elderly neighbor, Father Stanislaus Jozwiak, a dedicated Polish priest. He asked me to drive him to Mass in my four-wheel drive truck. I shoveled out a path to his door and off we went to his church in McKeesport. I left him at the door and finally had to leave the truck in a snowdrift. I waded through the snow to the church and found there were three people at Mass, including Fr. Stan! The Irish didn't cancel that weekend but the bishop did. I think we served at one of the very few Masses. Best wishes,
Jim Wilson, Bethel Park
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY 1993 by CHUCK PETERS on the South Side
That morning in 1993, our family and friends, as we always did, went to DeLuca's on the Strip for breakfast. Snow was coming down in flakes as big as goose feathers, and the diner was buzzing with news that the parade had been canceled. Some faint hearts in our bunch (probably orange Irish) believed this, or wanted too, and suggested we all go home. After passing the flask around, we agreed, however, that if anyone was fool enough to march, we owed it to them to watch. We adjourned to our usual stand in front of Mellon Bank across from the courthouse. By this time the goose feathers were more the size of swan's feathers and were coming down in ever greater profusion.
Either that flask or the falling snow makes the parade a little dim for me, but I remember one event clearly. Down the street, towing a big Eat and Park restaurant balloon shaped like a smiley-face cookie came the SONS OF ITALY advertising (are you ready for this?) the “Columbus Day Parade.” Friends of mine from county government, if memory serves, Guy Tumolo, Joe Natoli, Pete Shepis, Sal Saribella and others, were towing it and briefly hung it up on the telephone wires. I stepped into the street and asked, “Are you guys nuts? We Micks have to be here, but what the hell are you doing here?”
Sometime after that we adjourned to my son Stewart's house on the South Sides slopes. He had already left with a friend in a jeep to drive out to Enon Valley on the Pennsylvania-Ohio line to pick up a side of beef roasted for our annual party. Before the blizzard, close to 100 were expected, which gives you an idea of the amount of meat. The adventure, driving through the blizzard and back, out past Beaver Falls is too long to recount here, but they brought home the beef. In the interim I walked down 18 th Street to my home on the flats to drive my wife and 85-year-old mother (a Sullivan who never missed a hooley) to the party, which by this time was looking more and more like a non starter. Our car was a Ford Festiva, only a couple of clicks above an enclosed golf cart, but we had no trouble making it up 18 th Street as it was a stick shift with front wheel drive. When it came time to turn into narrow Pius Street , we found that the city street crews in their efforts to keep the main roads open had plowed the side streets closed. Not to worry! A dozen revelers walking down the street hoisted the car with my mother in it, over the mound, and we drove down the street to the party and parked on the sidewalk.
By this time perhaps two dozen people had straggled in, the beef had arrived, and the party was going full blast as only one can when the weather is raging outside. One of the participants was a newly married friend from New Jersey who was attending with his bride. Although he was experienced in these events, he had neglected to advise her on the appropriate wardrobe for a Saint Patrick's weekend in the ‘burgh; she had come equipped for a cruise on a five-star Norwegian cruise ship. That may or may not have contributed to her passively encouraging the shaving of one of his eyebrows later when he “took a nap” and to their divorce a decade later.
Several hours later I drove my wife and mother off the slopes, but the party continued for three days as the folks from, New Jersey , Virginia , and Beaver County could not leave. The remaining dozen the revelers existed on enough roast beef and beer for a hundred.
t some point during that prolonged party, it was determined to create the SOUTH SIDE CELTIC SOCIETY, which continues to function to this day (five members ran sporting distinctive SSCS shirts in the 10K last fall). The next year, for the parade, all who had made it to Pius Street sported green t-shirts that read “I GOT PLOWED AT THE 1993 SAINT PATRICK'S DAY BLIZZARD—WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?”
I am the fellow carrying the national colors with the 116th Pa. Civil War unit in the middle of the photo. I also marched last Saturday in the snow my 22nd year. My arms were so frozen that year I actually had to struggle to finally lower the flag at the end but it was one of the proudest moments of my life to have held it high throughout the course of the parade with my comarades. Phil Ward, 116th Pa. Volunteer Inft. "The Irish Brigade" Huntsville, Ontario Canada www.livinghistoryphotos.com
My name is Emily Flowers and I marched in the St. Patrick's parade of 1993 with the Brashear High School marching band. I remember no one really was there and we were covered in snow by parade's end. I ended up going over to my boyfriend's house afterwards and we were stuck there for 3 days. It was a very interesting St. Patrick's Day and I will never forget the blizzard of 93'.
Here is my blizzard of 93' story. I was a dancer with Burke Irish Dancers back then and we had practiced for weeks to get our marching and dancing right. On the morning of the parade my mom got a call that we wouldn't be marching and that parade was probably going to be canceled. Myself and a few other brave dancers actually showed up to march in the blizzard! We just marched though (no music) we didn't perform which as any who has gone to the parade knows is a highlight of the parade is the dancers. Anyway, I will never forget that parade for the rest of my life. It was so cold, windy and almost unbearable but the group of us wanted to show our pride in our heritage no matter the weather! Every time I see footage from that parade on the news I think of the commitment and determination of Irish step dancers, even in blizzards!
For almost a week before parade day in 1993, the weather forecasts called for a big blizzard everyday. When each day passed with no sign of snow everyone laughed it off when they again predicted a blizzard on March 13th, parade day.
By 7 am a light snow was falling. By 8 am we had several inches. Not going because of a little snow wasn't even considered as an option. I was scheduled to play music at a downtown restaurant after the parade so the wife was dropped off to march with her LAOH division and I proceeded to the restaurant and watched as the snow kept piling up.
By 10 am all the roads were impassable but the city snow ploughs kept the parade route fairly clean. One thing that will always stand out in my mind was the green stripe down the middle of the streets. I wondered about it for a while and then realized that it was the green shamrocks that had been painted on the street along the parade route. The ploughs had smeared them in the snow all down the street.
The marchers that did show up just got in line and practically ran down the parade route. The usual four hour parade was over in less than an hour. Now the real difficulty facing people in town was realized.
The busses and streetcars stopped running. The taxi cabs stopped service. The parkway and all ways out of the city were closed. All the hotels were booked and if you were still downtown by 4 pm you were really stuck.
I packed up my equipment in the station wagon with bald tires not really knowing what to do next when I realized that there were a lot of people in the same boat. They all stared at my car and asked what I planned to do. I replied that I was going to the Pour House in Carnegie if anyone wanted a lift.
Within seconds, there was barely enough room in the car for me. With people crammed in every square inch including lying in the back around speakers and guitars, we struck out.
The parkway was the only option even though we had heard that it was legally closed. I figured that if it was closed it would be blocked off by police cars or traffic horses or something. It wasn't so we ploughed snow across the bridge and drove through the tunnel. All the exits were completely covered and some had stranded vehicles sideways across them. We didn't see a plough, a police car or anything else moving but with all the weight in the front wheel drive station wagon we sailed along throwing a plumb of snow behind us.
The exit into Carnegie was down hill so we just kept on going all the way to the Pour House. When we got there someone had just dug their car out of a parking space and amidst whoops and cheers we pulled right in. People looking out of the windows of the Pour House said it looked like a clown car with all those people that just kept getting out.
By 11:00 the snow plough had cleared the streets enough to get almost home. We walked the last two blocks through waist deep drifts carrying guitars like soldiers forging a stream and keeping their weapons dry but glad to be home at last.
We all knew from 10 am on that this was going to be a memorable day. Looking back on it now, it was probably the most fun St. Patrick's Day ever. But I don't ever want to do it again.