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Renzie Ramble Celebrates Rich Local History

National, regional historic figures to be portrayed in second-annual event

By Elizabeth Laughlin
The Tube City Almanac
July 10, 2022
Posted in: Entertainment, McKeesport and Region News

At Saturday’s Renzie Ramble, Olympic gold-medalist and WNBA half-of-fame champion Swin Cash will be portrayed by Nya O’Neil, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation. Olympic gold-medalist and Baltimore Orioles southpaw Rick Krivda will be portrayed by Mason Gergely, presented by DTI Development and Marc Gergely. (Submitted photos courtesy McKeesport Little Theater)

The Renzie Ramble is returning to Renziehausen Park this Saturday from 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Sponsored by McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, the event celebrates McKeesport history with a walking tour of local and national figures. They will be portrayed by 11 actors from the McKeesport Little Theater.

All of the people represented contributed to McKeesport’s history. This is the second year for the event.

National figures include Langston Hughes, the playwright and poet from the Harlem Renaissance, who will be played by Dellen Morton and presented by Allen Come Get Wright. Hughes traveled to McKeesport to visit his mother.

President Richard Nixon, who visited McKeesport in 1947, will be played by Emmet Chesleigh and presented in memory of Carl Willig by Noretta Willig.

Another president featured is President John F. Kennedy, who also visited McKeesport in 1947, played by Josh Klein at Heatherington Field. It will be presented in memory of Dr. Ramon Lazano by his family. 

Last year, Renzie Ramble showcased President George Washington and used the tag line, “George Washington slept here.”

Local figures this year include Chief Fred Bray, McKeesport Fire Department’s first Black chief, played by Luciano Lanz and presented by McKeesport Firefighters IAFF Local 10.

Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, who inspired the name of the McKeesport street, will be played by Kaitlyn Majewski and presented by Ziebart of McKeesport.

Others represented include former WNBA hall-of-fame figure Swin Cash, bullfighter Bette Ford, and Olympic gold medalist Rick Krivda.

“I’ve interviewed Rick Krivda, Swin Cash, Fred Bray and Bette Ford at various times in the past,” coordinator Jennifer Vertullo said.

Playwright Marc Connelly and Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy will also be represented.

The idea of the walking tour was inspired by those involved with the Heritage Center, particularly Andrea Cartwright and Sharon Soles.

“I wrote the majority of the scripts by using the files at the center,” Vertullo said. Jason Togyer and Bonnijean Cooney Adams also helped write the scripts that are used on the tour.

The tour lasts anywhere from an hour to ninety minutes, with tours every 15 minutes. The last tour will leave at 3:00 p.m. Attendees should park at the Heritage Center, 1832 Arboretum Drive.

Board president Matt Gergely expressed his appreciation for the city of McKeesport in their partnership of the event, along with the mayor’s help.

“We wanted to thank Mayor (Mike) Cherepko for everything,” Gergely said. “Especially for letting us use the park.”

Both Gergely and Vertullo expressed their excitement in bringing the event to life. The Heritage Center created this event in order to share McKeesport’s history with people.

“This gives us a chance to showcase historical figures and share so many unique stories,” Gergely said.

They also mentioned another event held by the McKeesport Heritage Center, called the Living History Tour. The Living History Tour is held every fall at the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery and shares the stories of those buried there.

Tickets for Renzie Ramble cost $15 for general admission, $12 for Heritage Center members, and $6 for children aged twelve and under.

Elizabeth Laughlin is a freelance writer and a doctoral student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate assistant who runs the department newsletter and writes for a digital project. She writes for Modern Language Studies, and her short story, "Twenty-Seven," will be published this August in their journal. This is her first article for Tube City Almanac.

Originally published July 10, 2022.

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