By Annette Bassett
Allegheny County’s largest park will be hopping all day and into the night on Saturday, Oct. 15, when the Allegheny County Parks Foundation hosts two of its signature events at North Park. Park ‘til Dark is a full day of free family fun, while later that evening, Pour at the Park adds adult recreation.
The same events drew a crowd at South Park in May, says Kait Merry, the foundation’s development and marketing coordinator. “We see this as a good way to get more people out and get to know their parks.”
Park ‘til Dark starts at 8 a.m. when bird watchers will meet at the basketball courts for a short hike, accompanied by master birders from the Audubon Society. Binoculars are recommended.
Those who like to sleep in a little on Saturdays can meet up at the School House Shelter between 9 a.m. and noon when park rangers will be supervising volunteer tree planting. Plan on getting dirty.
Beginning at noon, UPMC Health Plan will offer health screenings and drop-in activities until 4 pm. Tennis Court Road will be closed for the event. Play games, get your face painted — and check your blood pressure. There will also be caricature artists and food available for purchase from the BRGR food truck.
Don’t miss the afternoon activities:
- There’s free kayaking and family fishing on North Park Lake. Fishing gear is provided and no license is necessary, courtesy of the PA Fish & Boat Commission.
- Latodami Nature Center will lead a fall discovery hike.
- There’s yoga from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Latrobe Shelter, presented by Stray Dog Yoga Studio.
- Park ‘til Dark concludes with Bike the Loop, a 5-mile route around North Park Lake.
Thirsty cyclists over 21 are invited to veer off the loop at 5:30 p.m. when Pour at the Park gets started at the North Park Lodge.
This fundraising event is always popular, Merry says. And it’s still family-friendly: Dave Gray from CDG Sports Events is hosting an Ultimate Sports Zone session from 6 to 7:30 p.m., giving kids a workout and keeping them busy while parents focus on the main event: beer tasting. (There will also be wine, spirits and food).
Local purveyors including Dancing Gnome and Two Frays breweries, Maggie’s Farm Rum, La Palapa and Churn will share samples while Sierra Sellers and Chalk Dinosaur play live music. The party wraps up at 8:30 pm.
Formed in 2007, the Allegheny County Parks Foundation has raised $10 million in funds, partially matched by the county, for a total investment of $15 million to support the nine county parks. Ongoing projects include the restoration of the North Park Observation Tower and mine pollution cleanup at Pinkertons Run in Settlers Cabin Park.
While admission to Park ‘til Dark is free, you must register. (Note: only a few spaces remain for kayaking.)
Tickets to Pour at the Park are $55, with discounts for kids and designated drivers.
Annette Bassett is a freelance writer and grant writer living in Bloomfield. She likes visiting local breweries, going to concerts and walking the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh while listening to audiobooks. She prefers wired earbuds.