Santa Claus and Krampus Come to New Kensington

Mural by Bernie Wilke and Other Artists. Fourth Avenue, Downtown New Kensington. December 3, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

New Kensington’s Christmas / Holiday Parade took place downtown today. (Here is last year’s Santa Claus fire truck photo.)

Enjoy two new Santa Claus photos and a new Krampus photo.

Krampus appears in folklore from central Europe. Krampus is half-goat and half-demon. The German word “krampen” means “claw.”

Per, Krampus predated the spread of Christianity to Europe. He belonged to Pagan tradition. He was the son of the Norse god of the underworld.

Later, European Christians established December 6 as the Feast of St. Nicholas.

The folklore evolved to explain that St. Nicholas and Krampus both visited families on December 5, the Eve of St. Nicholas. St. Nick brought treats for obedient children. Krampus terrified naughty children. Some refer to December 5 as Krampusnacht, the Night of Krampus.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, Krampus enthusiasts gather in Pittsburgh on December 5 to commemorate Krampusnacht.

The Krampus in this photo belongs to the New Kensington Volunteer Fire Department.

Fourth Avenue, Downtown New Kensington. December 3, 2022.

Many thanks to the New Kensington Volunteer Fire Department and all of the parade contributors!

Mural by Bernie Wilke and Other Artists. Fourth Avenue, Downtown New Kensington. December 3, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Changing of the Queen’s Guard

Changing of the Queen’s Guard, Buckingham Palace, London, September 2009 (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Here’s a photo that I took in London in 2009 at the Changing of the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. (Yeah, I know that this photo isn’t the world’s best. At least nobody will rip it off, I guess.)

This was my first non point-and-shoot camera. I took about 300 photos of the ducks at St. James’s Park on this same trip. Looking back, I’m surprised that I took any photos at all of this particular morning ceremony. I didn’t plan my attendance at this event well. Jonathan was busy with a work conference (that’s why we were in London). I was on my own for this excursion to Buckingham Palace. Our hotel was directly across the river from the Tower of London. I overslept that morning. I had to rush to make it on the ride for the London Underground. (Yes, I minded the gap.) I showed up at Buckingham Place just a few minutes before or a few minutes after this ceremony started. The place was PACKED. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to get a spot in the crowd where I could see anything.

The ceremony included not one, but TWO marching bands.

A lot of the other spectators were dressed up. Some of the women wore dresses, Easter churchy hats, etc. I didn’t even think to dress up to go to Buckingham Palace. I grew up going camping (tent camping and pop-up camper camping and cabin camping) for vacations. It didn’t even cross my mind to take “nice” clothes with me for a tourist trip. When I was a kid, we wore our nice clothes for school, church, and dentist appointments. Not for travel. I’m an American and I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I’m also just weird.

Anyway, either the day before or the day that I took this photo, I learned that Buckingham Palace was open to the public only one month out of the year. I happened to be in London during the very month that Buckingham Palace was open. So, I purchased a ticket and toured Buckingham Palace. Again, I wore clothes that I had packed specifically because I wouldn’t miss them if the airline lost my luggage. Other people in my tour group dressed as if they were visiting Buckingham Place.

The tour ended in the palace’s garden. There was a tea vendor and tables set up for tourists IN the garden. Therefore, tour participants could choose to purchase tea and have “teatime” in the garden at Buckingham Palace. It personally seemed to me to be a money grab, but whatever. A bunch of the women wearing dresses and Easter hats seemed to be into this.

I’m glad that I had the opportunity to tour Buckingham Palace. If I ever make it back, it would be interesting to see how things have changed and will change under the new monarch.

He Has a Road Sign Along Route 30 in Ligonier Now

Photo of Fort Ticonderoga in New York State by Jonathan Woytek, circa 2009. General Arthur St. Clair faced a court martial for retreating from this fort and leaving it in the hands of the British in 1777 during the Revolutionary War. In 1791, St. Clair commanded the United States forces during their worst defeat by Native Americans, in present-day Ohio. A historical marker and a monument along Route 30 in Ligonier memorialize St. Clair’s final residence.

Arthur St. Clair, the commander of the American forces who suffered the worst ever defeat in United States history by Native Americans, has a road sign on Route 30 in Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania.

I learned about the road sign (erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) from this article by Renatta Signorini on

The Trib article did not mention Arthur St. Clair’s 1791 military defeat in The Battle of the Wabash. I had to learn about this defeat by reading, first, The Red Heart (a fiction novel by James Alexander Thom) and later from Wikipedia.

The Trib article also did not mention that St. Clair faced a court martial after he retreated from Fort Ticonderoga – and left it in the hands of the British – in 1777.

From what I read about General St. Clair, his supporters argued that St. Clair didn’t have adequate resources to succeed at Fort Ticonderoga (which is in present-day New York) or at the Wabash (which is in present-day Ohio).

The road sign on Route 30 commemorates the Westmoreland County home where St. Clair lived at the very end of his life. The location of St. Clair’s grave a few miles away in Greensburg became a prominent public park named after him.

I myself travel on Route 30 between my current home and my hometown in Somerset County. I’ve never actually noticed the PHMC marker, or the monument installed by the county. That section of Route 30 is sort of tricky to safely drive, so I’m glad that the Trib notified me to the presence of this sign.

If you want to learn more about Arthur St. Clair without leaving Route 30, you can head on over to the museum at Fort Ligonier. The museum has pieces of Arthur St. Clair’s parlor installed in it. From what I read, the United States failed to repay a substantial debt owed to St. Clair. St. Clair lost most of what he owned, including the residence that contained this particular parlor. His possessions were sold to repay his own creditors. According to local folklore, General St. Clair’s ghost and his wife’s ghost haunt the fort’s museum. My fourth grade class visited Fort Ligioner several decades ago. I didn’t see any ghosts. I re-visited the museum in 2018. I still did not see any ghosts.

Just as an aside, I’ve previously blogged – several times – about Simon Girty. I learned from Wikipedia that Girty fought with the Native Americans at St. Clair’s defeat.

If you want to learn more about General St. Clair (or about Simon Girty), I recommend the website for the Heinz History Center.

“BeYOUtiful” Mural by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown

“BeYOUtiful” by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown. Downtown New Kensington. May 8, 2022.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
“BeYOUtiful” by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown. Downtown New Kensington. May 8, 2022.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
“BeYOUtiful” by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown. Downtown New Kensington. May 8, 2022.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Three Rivers Arts Festival / TRAF / Pittsburgh Pride 2021

Three Rivers Arts Festival. Point State Park, Downtown Pittsburgh, PA. June, 2021.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Yes, this photo is about a year old. I took it at the Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh in early June (June 6?) 2021. Pittsburgh Pride 2021 occurred in downtown Pittsburgh this same weekend. I think that I took this photo the day after the Pride parade.

I don’t know any of the people in this photo. I don’t know the dog in this photo.

One of the people in this photo held a baby. I chose to post one of the photos in which you can’t see the actual baby.

(Some lurker will note that nobody in this photo wore a mask. So, here’s the thing: Remember how, back in the late spring of 2021, the CDC revised its mask guidelines? The CDC had lifted its mask recommendation for the fully vaccinated. The CDC didn’t announce until some time after July 4, 2021 that vaccinated people should resume wearing masks. )

So, we took photos and then watched that night’s TRAF headliner perform. The lead singer cried on stage between songs. TRAF was her first or one of her first live performances since March 2020 when Covid hit.

I get it. Maybe if I had actually practiced my clarinet in high school instead of reading historical fiction romance novels in the back of the library, I’d still be playing publicly today. Maybe I’d break down and cry after the Covid hiatus ended.

It was really hot at the Arts Festival that day. So hot that I only moved from my folding chair to obtain water or eliminate water. I even took this photo from the comfort of my chair. So, maybe the lead singer was dehydrated under the stage lights.

I don’t remember much else about TRAF 2021.

Final Friday

“Final Friday” Event. VooDoo Brewery. Fifth Avenue, Downtown New Kensington. April 22, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

I took this photo at the “Final Friday” event held in New Kensington on April 22, 2022. Organizers schedule “Final Friday” in downtown New Kensington for the final Friday evening of every “warm weather” month. The Hoffman Road Band performed at this particular “Final Friday” event.

Claude Monet’s Better Dreams

“Monet in Bloom.” Phipps Conservatory. Pittsburgh, PA. April 29, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

I posted here some photos that I took at Phipps Conservatory this past Friday. In about a week or so, you will most likely see a story in the local media about the grand opening of Phipps’ upcoming exhibit, “Monet in Bloom.”

Phipps’ Spring Flower Show ended a few weeks ago. The “Monet in Bloom” show doesn’t officially open until next Saturday. However, Phipps remains open between exhibits. They install signs around their facility noting that visitors are watching the upcoming exhibit’s progress. The “Monet in Bloom” show was such a work-in-progress when Jonathan and I viewed it this past Friday.

“Monet in Bloom.” Phipps Conservatory. Pittsburgh, PA. April 29, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Wikipedia told me that Claude Monet’s father “disapproved” of Monet’s artistic ambitions and “wanted him to pursue a career in business.” So, you know, pretty on par with everything that I have ever read about creative people.

When he was a young adult, the older adults in his life most likely said stuff to him like, “Time for you to get better dreams, Claude. My co-worker’s son, Jean Pierre, studied accounting. He has a job offer and a hiring bonus. The neighbor kid, Antoine, is finishing his Pharmacy degree. How do you intend to feed yourself, Claude?”

I think that Claude Monet did just fine. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can.

“Monet in Bloom.” Phipps Conservatory. Pittsburgh, PA. April 29, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Jonathan and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on Friday.

We travelled downtown and watched five young (college aged?) women hold a Dunkin’ Donuts party at PPG Plaza. The women kicked off the party by feeding doughnut bits to the plaza pigeons. The women boosted the party with a marriage proposal (complete with PPG Plaza Water Fountain, bended knee, ring, and screams of delight) between two of the women.

We heard a tour guide tell his group that locals refer to the PPG Fountain as the “Tomb of the Unknown Bowler.” (The fountain sort-of resembles bowling balls propping up a really big bowling pin. Here’s a photo from 2012.)

(Edit: A Google search told me that “former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Peter Leo” created the landmark’s nickname.)

PPG Plaza Water Fountain, October 2012. Some critics refer to it as the “Tomb of the Unknown Bowler” since the fountain “sort of” resembles bowling balls propping up a really big bowling pin.

Pitt’s graduation took place this weekend around the city. While we sat at the plaza, a man robed in doctoral regalia carried a folding camp chair back and forth across the plaza. (We joked that this chair was his graduation gift. “Congratulations on your doctorate! Here’s a camp chair. Now carry it back to your car!“)

Everyone’s just doing the best that they can.

Heron vs Koi?

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. September or October, 2021. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Iorld’s most observant person. Still, I remember the first time that I saw a heron “in the wild” here in Western Pennsylvania. I was an adult. We were driving on a highway that spooned a creek. I yelled, “Hey, there’s a heron standing in the creek!”

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. September or October, 2021. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Now, in the warm months, I see at least one heron fly directly over my backyard in Parnassus. Same time each evening. Perhaps my yard sits under the flight path between Pucketa (Puckety) Creek and the Allegheny River? What do you think?

So, anyway, my employer held an Earth Day photography contest on its intranet. Prizes are bragging rights only.

I entered one of these for the contest. I posted a heron photo. I wrote in the caption that to me, the heron is a symbol of the air and water clean-up efforts here in Western PA.

Within hours of my posting about my heron excitement, this one employee (who I don’t know) from another office (on the East Coast of the US) left a comment on my post. The comment went something like this:

I used to have a Koi pond my backyard. The pond had about 20 fish that were all worth a great deal of money. One day, I came home and all of the Koi were gone. My neighbor showed me a photo of a blue heron sitting on my roof looking down at the empty pond. So, I blame the heron for eating all of my expensive fish. I had to close my Koi pond.

(She capitalized the word “koi.”)

I have family friends who lost their own koi to raccoons. I’m sorry to hear this.

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. September or October, 2021.
This one’s blurry. Oh well. You try asking a heron to stay put so that you can get a photo.
Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Heron are native to our part of North America. Koi are not native to North America.

Heron. Drummond Island. Lake Huron. Northern Michigan. August 25, 2021. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

In honor of heron just doing their best to survive in their natural habitat on this Earth, here are a bunch of heron photos that I took.

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. October, 2020. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

CMU Fence with Ukrainian Colors

Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA. March 11, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Carnegie Mellon University has a fence that gets painted a lot as part of a fun campus tradition. I’m going to link here CMU’s own explanation of the fence painting. Everything that I know about the fence tradition came from the internet or from a random friend-of-a-friend who attended CMU.

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