Mayor Bill Peduto exclaimed in jest, "Hello, scary puppets!" as he met puppeteers costumed as tropical birds, glittery penguins and even a massive effigy of Peduto himself in the City-County Building.
Peduto issued a proclamation Wednesday morning in honor of the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh, a puppetry arts organization established in 2016 to “provide an accessible community promoting communication, networking and awareness within the field of puppetry arts,” according to the group’s website.
The mayor proclaimed March 21, 2018, to be the Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry, in correspondence with the Puppeteers of America World Day of Puppetry.
“Pittsburgh definitely fights above its weight when it comes to our arts,” Peduto said, surrounded by a gaggle of the larger-than-life puppets. “For a city our size, we’ve been blessed to have artists, craftsmen and others for generations who call the city home, and for a lot of them, they have been able to work in puppetry.”
He also acknowledged the international reputation of Pittsburgh’s most beloved puppets and puppeteers.
Margo Lovelace’s Marionette Theater operated for over three decades in Shadyside and at the Carnegie Museum of Art. King Friday XIII, Daniel Striped Tiger and friends delighted children all over the world on the television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Local sculptor Cheryl Capezzuti has displayed her puppets for over 20 years at venues like the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
The puppetry guild wants to continue that legacy.
The group hosts giant puppet dance clubs, and Wednesday night will appear at the Brillobox’s Puppet Happy Hour.
Dave English, president of the guild, accepted the proclamation on the group’s behalf.
“It's important to elevate puppetry in Pittsburgh,” he said. “We’ve got a terrific mix of people who have been here working on puppetry forever and a lot of fresh new perspectives coalescing in just the right way.”
English presented Peduto with a small tray of nine paper-mache finger puppets in the likeness of each Pittsburgh City Council member. A blue finger puppet adorned with white question marks occupied the District 8 seat, which is now occupied by Erika Strassburger.
Peduto acted out a scene with the District 1 Councilwoman Darlene Harris finger puppet—announcing in a cartoonish voice that the Puppetry Guild was doing a great job. As the crowd laughed, the tray of finger puppets tumbled to the floor. “I saved Darlene!” Peduto exclaimed as he tried to catch them. He delegated the task of rearranging the puppets in their correct district seats to an aide.
When the guild treated the mayor to a dance, they bopped and twirled the full-sized creations to Sly & The Family Stone’s 1968 hit “Dance to the Music.” Peduto ultimately joined them in a conga line.
“Puppet me, come here!” Peduto said, gesturing to his likeness for a photo. Puppet Peduto obliged.
— Adelina Lancianese (@AdLancianese) March 21, 2018