Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The Pittsburgh Marathon makes a circle of the city, visiting many of its sections. I got to watch it pass Walnut Street, which is at mile 15. A celebration had been organized for that site, with a band, and a race organizer distributing bells to help cheer the runners on. When I got there, it was about 2-1/2 hours into the marathon; the peole passing were on pace to finish in 5 hours or so. Many were tired, and one obviously injured but refusing to stop. Still there were lots of scenes of jubilation: a mother ecstatic to watch her daughter run, kids thrilled to see mom pass. My friend Phil Hallen and I rang bells and cheered and enjoyed the scene. He has lived in the area for a long time. Walnut Street is now a very upscale shopping destination, with William Sonoma and Ann Taylor. There are a few small stores left, including one of the best toy stores in the world. The stores were closed for race day, but I did learn that they will be staying open late for a Spring Shopping Day. On the other hand, with the chain stores closed and the street given over to runners, we were able to see Main Street in its other role: a center of community life and fun.