St. Barnabas Throws An Early Super Bowl Tailgate Party
Residents of St. Barnabas Nursing Home turn happy hour into Steeler celebration.
Like most Steelers tailgate parties, there was lots of black and gold. Unlike most Steelers tailgate parties, this one was held at 2 o'clock on Friday afternoon.
Over 60 residents of St. Barnabas Nursing Home gathered for their traditional Friday afternoon happy hour, but due to the Steelers' upcoming Super Bowl appearance, this one was a tailgate party.
“We’ve done this when the Steelers were in the Super Bowl in the past and the residents always enjoy it,” said Kathie Brenneman, director of public relations.
The party room was decorated with Steelers signs, football field tablecloths, Steelers napkins and plates, streamers and other Steelers paraphernalia. About 80 percent of the residents also sported black and gold with No. 43 the predominant Steelers jersey in sight.
That’s Troy Polamalu’s number and he was also the No. 1 favorite Steelers player mentioned among the residents.
“Oh, I like him,” said Josie Ritter, pointing to one of the aforementioned jerseys. A life-long Pittsburgh resident, Ritter said she loved the Steelers.
“I had a husband and three sons. I had to like football,” she joked. Ritter also picked the Steelers over their opponents, the Green Bay Packers, for Sunday’s game with a 23-21 victory. “I think it will be very close,” she predicted.
“I like Polamalu. And I like Hines,” said Lillian Bemmardo, decked out in her Steelers sweatshirt and gold beads. In addition to enjoying the “game day” snacks, Bemmardo was one of the knitters’ club members who were kicking off their own Steelers project at the tailgate party.
The group is crocheting and knitting lap robes to be donated in honor of the 2011 Founder’s Day Celebration honoree, retired Steeler Rocky Bleier.
He will be honored at the April 28 Founders Day Celebration, according to Brenneman.
“Since he wore No. 20 during his years with the Steelers, the group will give him 20 lap robes prior to the Founder’s Day event,” she explained. It is expected that Bleier will donate the lap robes to patients at St. Barnabas.
The volunteers and staff of St. Barnabas also got into the act Friday, with many of them wearing black and gold. Keith Robb volunteers two or three times a week and visits with his 95-year-old mother, resident Elsie Robb.
“Since I retired last year, I can come over a lot. I love being here and they are very appreciative,” he said while serving cheese and crackers.
Robb and his mother will watch the Super Bowl game together on a new TV that he just purchased for her. His prediction is a 27- 21 Steelers win.
Leo Rihn was also choosing the Steelers. Like his fellow residents, his favorite player is Polamalu.
“The Steelers will win naturally,” he said. Rihn predicted a 21-14 final score.
As the party wound down, volunteer organ player Charlie Summers played polkas, albeit not the Steelers’ polka. The party-goers didn’t mind, though.
Come Sunday, many of the residents will gather to watch the Big Game in one of the larger rooms at the home, while others will watch at family members' homes. Wherever they may be, you can bet they will be cheering for Troy Polamalu and the Steelers.