North Side born and raised, Joey Spehar, Morning Mix host at WYEP-FM, remains true to his roots, living in Spring Hill.
As a single father of daughter, Madilyn, 5, those roots runs deep to the four generations who have spent time at the Croatian Center, his favorite Pittsburgh place to enjoy with Madilyn.
“We love to attend picnics at the Croatian Center,” Spehar says. “It’s a very well-hidden picnic grounds in Millvale that was, historically, a meeting place for Croatians after mass on Sundays.”
Today, all are welcome at the center, where there are food, live music, and a huge pavilion dance floor.
“Some of my fondest childhood memories involve spending time with family and friends at the Croatian Center, and I love being able to share this tradition with the next generation,” Spehar says. “The kids can run around, make new friends, and enjoy the playground area for a bit, at least until it’s time to eat.
“There’s nothing better on a steamy Sunday afternoon than picking through a pile of roasted lamb, green onions, and Croatian potato salad,” he says. “When we’re done eating, it’s time to hit the dance floor, enjoy some traditional music, and dance a polka or 10.”
As Spehar often tells his daughter, in the end, family is all we have.
“One of the reasons I love going to Croatian Center is that it gives us an opportunity to keep family and cultural traditions alive,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard for different generations to relate to each other, but through music, food, language, dance, and tradition, we can feel close to the ones we love now and learn about our families who came before us.”