Pitt students paint the town


Sarah Connor | Contributing Editor

First-years Lily McIntire (left) and Alden Paine paint “H2P” on Popeye’s door Monday for Paint the Town — an event hosted by Pitt Student Alumni Association — in preparation for Homecoming.

By Sarah Connor, Culture Editor

The windows of Oakland businesses are usually decorated with signs advertising $6 pizzas and printouts for local clubs. But Monday morning, members of Pitt’s Student Alumni Association and Blue and Gold Society were painting their school’s signature colors on the windows of Fifth Avenue businesses.

This process — a tradition called “Paint the Town” — is a yearly event focused on decorating the places Pitt students frequent in preparation for Homecoming Week, which is from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7 this year.

Members of the SAA propped themselves up on the booth seating at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and crouched in front of the glass door, painting words and designs like “H2P,” panther paw prints and “Hail!” all in navy blue and golden-yellow paint.

The group’s leader, Kendall Oakley, a senior communication and nonfiction writing major, is a veteran of Paint the Town.

“We’ve been doing this for a while — and a lot of this just comes from a simple email. Just letting them know that we’re going to be doing it again and asking for permission to do it at these vendors usually gets us the permission that we need,” Oakley said.

Oakley, a member of both SAA and the Blue and Gold Society, described that doing the paintings year to year is not too complicated, as long as the groups abide by the regulations preset by the businesses.

Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer
Emma Finucane paints a front window at Pamela’s Diner on Forbes Avenue as part of Pitt Student Alumni Association’s Paint the Town event in preparation for Homecoming.

“Some vendors want us to paint on the outside of the windows, others prefer if we paint on the inside,” Oakley said. “It is a lot of communicating with the vendor.”

Following an hour-long painting spree by more than a dozen club members, the group took its artistry a few doors down to Pizza Milano, which is also located on Fifth Avenue.

Katherine Yee, a first-year psychology major, was doing her part to paint a blue letter “P” in a massive display of the word “Pitt.”

“SAA always has a sign-up sheet out for volunteers for events like this, and it seemed like a fun thing to do,” Yee said. “We get to look at the paintings for weeks after, too.”

Yee was painting next to sophomore rehabilitation science major Erin Casey, who was holding up a panther paw print stencil outline for another student to fill in with blue paint.

Casey helped out with the painting last year and was happy to get back out into the Oakland storefronts to share Pitt pride.

“Last year, I painted at Sushi Fuku and a few other places,” Casey said. “I remember seeing the painting in the skywalk pop up one morning and thinking, ‘Wow, that’s really cool that we get to do this.’”

Casey was unsure how the paintings eventually come down from the windows, stating that she does not recall ever scrubbing windows herself — and that some of the paintings pleasantly stayed up longer than she anticipated.

“The skywalk stayed up for months afterwards, which was so great,” she said.

Oakley had experience with the removal of the paintings, even though that was a mystery to many of her fellow painters.

“The paint can come off with some Windex and water,” she said. “Blue and Gold Society does their own little version of [the Pitt Make A Difference Day service event], so we all come out the Sunday after PMADD and basically just clean all the windows.”

Though the window-cleaning eventually becomes as much of an affair as the window-painting, Oakley was still excited for the events of Homecoming Week and was unphased by the responsibilities it brings for the organizations she is involved with.

“I cleaned the windows last year and it was so much work, but that’s just what we’ve got to do. The paintings are still fun for us and everyone on campus,” she said. “There’s so many various events happening during homecoming — it’s anything and everything you can think of from so many groups. A lot of alumni come in, too. Painting is just what we do to kick off the week.”