Farewell, Michael Jackson: Movie Night On Flagstaff Hill

Achievement: #22. Watch a movie on Flagstaff Hill

Each summer, the Pittsburgh area parks host outdoor movie nights. The Parks Authority puts up a huge screen and sound system, and you can bring your picnic basket and your blanket and camp out under the stars to watch movies (usually recently-released movies, although they throw in old classics from time to time).

Neither of us had been to one of the screenings since we were in college, and although it had come up on our 101 List for 2009, we never found a night when we were available and the sky was clear. So this year, we checked out the list ahead of time and made our plans to see Michael Jackson’s This Is It on a hot August night.

The showing we went to was at Flagstaff Hill, which is a huge grassy stretch of land in Schenley Park, in Oakland. This is the famous hill where we would ‘study’ for spring semester finals while working on our tan (and chasing down the ice cream truck that would come by), and where countless Pitt and CMU students play frisbee or football, and where events like Race for the Cure are held. The hill is like nature’s stadium seating for the movies, and the view into Oakland is quite beautiful.

I have to say, we couldn’t have picked a better movie. The crowd was so into it, and everyone clapped along with the music and cheered at the end of each performance. MJ’s effect on all of us is still around, and you got the feeling that each and every one of us at the showing was having that feeling of, “I can’t believe he’s really gone.

All in all, it was another one of those moments that just made us love Pittsburgh, and made us love Pittsburghers. There is something unique about the feeling of community when you are sitting outside watching a movie with your neighbors, and we will definitely be back for another show next summer.

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Us on the hill before the sun was fully down.

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Flagstaff Hill looks into Oakland, and that big fortress you see is the Cathedral of Learning, one of my two favorite buildings in the city of Pittsburgh (the other is the Steel Building downtown).

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Here we are, acting silly lying in the grass.

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The last picture we could get before it was entirely dark, as they were raising up the screen and playing the opening credits to the movie.

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