Palm trees in Pittsburgh

Every reporter at the Trib had to come up with a few holiday brights — or stories that entertain while they educate. Here’s one of mine. I had seen this Strip District body shop in the summer and noted that it looked like it belonged in Florida, with palm trees planted in front. I wondered how the owner keeps them alive during the harsh Pittsburgh winters. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.

Keith Hodan, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Keith Hodan, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Steve Schaffer dreams of the day he buys a second home in Key West, Fla.

Until then, the native Pittsburgher makes his own tropical paradise for as long as it lasts — planting palm trees in the spring and then, at this time of year, watching them wither and die.

By Keith Hodan, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By Keith Hodan, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“It creates the illusion that we’re somewhere we’re not,” said Schaffer, the owner of City Collision II auto body shop in the Strip District. “I call it a cheap vacation, every time I look out.”

A few hardy Pittsburghers are willing to do what it takes to bring a little bit of the tropics north of the Mason-Dixon line — even if that means keeping up the Sisyphean task of buying tropical plants each spring.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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