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Pierogies, Bucco Brigade and trivia: How Slippery Rock grad puts on Pirates’ game-day entertainment

Slippery Rock University graduate Celine Halt takes a break while serving as a member of the Bucco Brigade at PNC Park. Submitted Photo

PITTSBURGH — Celine Halt still remembers her first Pittsburgh Pirates game.

“My dad won some tickets and took me to a game against the St. Louis Cardinals,” said Halt, a 2020 Slippery Rock University graduate. “I saw the people firing T-shirts, the ball girls, the pierogies running around. ... I decided I wanted to do that.”

While in school at SRU, she got the chance. Her sorority got word the Pirates were doing auditions for the Bucco Brigade, the group that stands on top of the dugouts, tosses out the T-shirts and engages with fans. Halt auditioned for and got one of those positions.

She was with the Bucco Brigade for the latter part of the 2017 season, all of 2018 and the beginning of the 2019 campaign.

“If there was a seven-game homestand, I’d work three or four of those games,” Halt recalled. “We made appearances at community events as well. That was a fun time.

“I had to leave the Pirates to do an internship with Carnival Cruise Line in Miami. I really missed it.”

Slippery Rock University graduate Celine Halt, second from left, works with Pirate pitcher David Bednar on a video taping in Bradenton, Fla. Submitted Photo

She didn’t have to miss it long.

Halt majored in resort, recreation and hospitality management at SRU. She graduated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everything was shut down,” she recalled. “There was nothing out there for me. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do.”

She eventually called her old boss with the Bucco Brigade — and received some good news. There was a full-time spot opening as manager of the Bucco Brigade.

“My old boss told me I’d be perfect for that job,” Halt said.

Once she got the job, it didn’t take her long to climb the ladder in the Pirates’ entertainment department. Having worked with the organization for less than three years, Halt was named manager of ballpark entertainment in 2023.

“There’s a lot involved in that,” she said.

She handles the auditions for the racing pierogies, ball girls and Bucco Brigade. She comes up with and organizes theme nights at PNC Park. She has her hand in all of the games that appear on the scoreboard between innings, player interviews shown on the scoreboard, ceremonial first pitches, etc.

“If it has to do with an engagement or game presentation, I have a big hand in that,” Halt said. “I do a lot of scripting for the trivia games and help decide what games we should do on what game nights, based on a lot of factors.”

She goes to spring training in Bradenton each year, where she gets to know the players, sets up and oversees taped interviews with them that are shown on the scoreboard during games at PNC Park.

“Mitch Keller and David Bednar are two of the most cooperative players I’ve worked with,” Halt said. “They’ve done so many clinics and things. ... When it comes to the fans, they don’t say no.

“All of the players are great, though. Everyone is so easy to work with.”

When the game gets underway, Halt doesn’t sit back. She’ll roam around the park, making sure there are no problems with the fan entertainment, seeing to it that everything is running smoothly.

“So much goes into this,” she said. “But I’m so happy to be here. Coming to this beautiful ballpark every day. ... It’s hard to imagine being anywhere else.”

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