Good things come to those who wait.
And endure a global pandemic.
And wait some more.
That’s what happened to the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of our Westmoreland Heritage Passport Contest, Bernadette Skoczylas.
After successfully completing the 2019 Passport Contest, which involved visiting at least 25 unique historic and cultural sites throughout Westmoreland County, Bernadette was drawn randomly as the grand prize winner from a pool of passport finishers.
She was going to take the grand prize trip to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her husband in the summer of 2020, but the world had other plans.
Finally, after MUCH patience, Bernadette was able to celebrate her grand prize journey in late July, 2021.
She was generous enough to write about her experiences and take many wonderful photographs. We congratulate Bernadette for her completion of the 2019 Westmoreland Heritage Passport Contest, and we LOVED reading about her travels. We hope you will too:
From Bernadette Skoczylas
Little did I realize in the fall of 2019 when I turned in my completed Passport for the Westmoreland Heritage contest that I would end up being the GRAND PRIZE WINNER! Of course, because of 2020, the trip couldn’t happen until recently. My husband and I spent three nights and four days at the Arnold Palmer SpringHill Suites Marriott, where everyone was so gracious and hospitable!
Our first stop after checking in was getting shuttled to the Latrobe Art Center. My friend, Michael Tusay, former Bushy Run Battlefield Museum Facilitator, is now the Executive Director at Latrobe Art Center. He gave us a great tour and chose this painting as our background. After a stroll through town, we shuttled back to the hotel, hung out a little, and then went to Sharky’s Café for dinner and beverages.
At the hotel after breakfast, staff took us to the Presidential Room with letters displayed from several presidents! The rest of the morning was spent browsing through Ligonier Diamond stores, including the GO Laurel Highlands Visitor Center.
After a lunch at the Wicked Googly, we walked down to Fort Ligonier for our personalized tour! We spent almost 2 hours inside and outside with our guide who gave us the MOST intensive, animated history lesson we have ever had! Fun fact: we learned George Washington had beautiful, reddish brown hair and NEVER wore wigs! He went gray naturally!
Today’s adventure began at the Latrobe Country Club. We were able to enjoy the Pro Shop for a little bit since we were early, and then we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch served by a very talented and attentive St. Vincent College student. The bartender then gave us a tour and explained how Arnold Palmer would sit in his special chair and greet the golfers as they came in and out of the locker room.
Our visit to the Westmoreland Museum featured their latest exhibits and an excellent snack, before we went back to the hotel to freshen up before our special dinner at DeNunzio’s.
After we checked out of the SpringHill Suites, we headed over to the Saint Vincent College campus to first stop at the Fred Rogers Center and Foster & Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery! We were able to see a new shipment of carpets and tapestries that were being prepped for cataloging and displaying.
Finally, we wrapped up our grand prize trip with a tour of the Basilica by two professors. We were joined by some GO Laurel Highlands staff, and we all enjoyed learning about the Romanesque architecture, the marble, the Carrara tile floor, and a lot of liturgical symbolism. And finally, homeward bound, where we took some time to relax and reflect on all of our adventures together.
THANK YOU Westmoreland Heritage and GO Laurel Highlands for making our adventure forever memorable!
Portions of these reflections have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.