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With Pandemic Safety Measures In Place, Kennywood Kicks Off Its 123rd Season Saturday

Parkgoers ride the Jack Rabbit roller coaster. The ride, which turned 100 in 2020, will get its official centennial celebration this season.
Parkgoers ride the Jack Rabbit roller coaster. The ride, which turned 100 in 2020, will get its official centennial celebration this season.

Kennywood Park will welcome guests back this Saturday when it opens for its 123rd season. The park will follow many of the COVID-19 protocols it established during its shortened season in 2020; guests must wear masks — except when on water rides — and it will cap attendance at 75% of the park’s occupancy to allow for social distancing.

Opening day will kick off with a centennial celebration for the park’s Jack Rabbit ride, the fifth-oldest operating coaster in the world, according to the park. The centennial celebration was initially set to take place last season, with winners of a contest taking the initial ride of the season. That centennial ride will take place Saturday, as the coaster becomes 101-years-old.

Rides and food stalls will come back online this year, but so will popular events like school picnics, community heritage days and the Celebrate America parade. New this season is a “Bites and Pints Food Festival” on weekends during the month of June. The park is partnering with chef Brian Pekarcik, owner of BRGR and formerly Spoon, to offer special dishes and drinks during live entertainment.

“We can’t wait to begin a new year that brings us closer to the typical Kennywood experience,” said general manager Mark Pauls. “The 2021 season offers a lot to be excited about, and we’ll keep the safety of our guests and team members as top priority as we welcome everyone back to the park.”

The park’s indoor restaurants will reopen after remaining closed last summer due to the pandemic. The park will also feature Millie’s Hometown Ice Cream at its Dipper ice cream stand.

The Steel Curtain roller coaster will be back online after it was suspended last summer, when modification work couldn’t be completed due to the pandemic. The Black Widow ride will also be up and running. A list of rides operating in a modified capacity or altogether closed will be updated on the park’s website. Noah’s Ark and the 4-D theatre will be closed when the park opens Saturday.

New this season is a chaperone policy for park goers under 18. Those guests must be accompanied by a chaperone at least 21-years-old after 4 p.m. Each adult chaperone must be present at the time of entry and remain within the park for the duration of their party’s visit.

In a release, the park said it will monitor attendance through an optional online reservation system. Park goers without a date-specific ticket are encouraged to make a reservation online where they can also find out if the park has reached its limited capacity on busy days.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.