Why I Got Involved

Carrie Holverson’s spreadsheet said, “Pittsburgh,” and she listened.

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Taste Downtown, a collaboration between Pittsburgh’s premiere performing arts school, CAPA, and Pittsburgh Symphony Association, is a benefit for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, November 3, 2:00 – 5:00pm. Last day for reservations is Oct. 27.

Carrie Holverson, chair of Taste Downtown, came looking–for Pittsburgh, for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and for Pittsburgh Symphony Association. And she has been busy since she landed here. She brought with her the ability to organize and direct large fundraising projects for the arts, a talent for taking the germ of an idea and adapting it to different circumstances, and an ability to envision new ways of doing things. But she never intended to be here.

Seven years ago Carrie was living in the rural Northern California town of Eureka, working as a first grade teacher, planning events for her local symphony and taking care of her best friend, a 1200 pound quarter horse.

Her world dramatically changed when she felt a pop in her chest, was airlifted to San Francisco for emergency open heart surgery, and experienced a recovery with complications that forced her to retire from teaching, resign her position on the Eureka Symphony Board, and investigate  a move to a city where medical care was immediately accessible, not six hours away.


Carrie had 12 criteria for her search. Topping the list were a symphony orchestra, a baseball team, a university, and good health care. Farther down the list were a craft beer scene, walkability and Aqua Zumba. For two years she plugged the data she gathered into a weighted Excel spreadsheet.  To her surprise, Pittsburgh had it all. When she saw a picture of a horse drawn carriage at PPG Place she was hooked.

A picture like this hooked her.

Carrie decided to make a cross-country Amtrak trip with her daughter Elizabeth, stopping in cities on the list and meeting with real estate agents. They arrived in Pittsburgh, had breakfast in the Strip and met with an agent to see the city.  

“During the tour my normally happy child became melancholy. I asked what was wrong and she replied, ‘You’re moving to Pittsburgh.’  It was evident I liked what Pittsburgh had to offer.”

She returned to California and shared her enthusiasm about what she had found with her husband, Harry. 

“I’m not moving to a city I have never visited,” he said. So with that she planned another cross-country train trip.  They spent three days in Pittsburgh touring, going to a baseball game and meeting with a Realtor.  Back on the train, heading to Washington, DC, Harry said, “I could live in Pittsburgh.”

“Within the next two months my husband retired, I sold my horse to a friend who loved her, we sold our house, stored our belongings, and said goodbye to our family and friends and embarked on a cross-country drive back to Pittsburgh.”

Knowing that Pittsburgh would be many ways different from rural Northern California, they decided to give themselves a year to investigate the city before investing in real estate.   They moved temporarily into a VRBO rental near 18th and East Carson and, after two days of touring neighborhoods and apartments, they  settled on a place to lease downtown with a view of the fountain at Point State Park. 

It took less than a year to decide Pittsburgh would be their permanent home and they purchased a condo in the Carlyle at 4th and Wood, the same street where the horse and carriage were pictured. “Funny how things work out, we live on that same street and love the horses when they are out and about.”   Two years later Elizabeth followed her parents to Pittsburgh .

Carrie signed up for Aqua Zumba at the PNC “Y” where she met Pittsburgh Symphony Association board member Karen Miller.  Karen introduced her to PSA, and PSA, recognizing talent, recruited her to plan the 2018 Spring Membership Luncheon. Carrie is now on the board of directors of the Association and back to planning events.

“Taste Downtown is patterned after Taste of Main Street  in Eureka.  I was involved in the inception of that event 22 years ago, so it will forever be near and dear to my heart. It has turned into one of Eureka’s signature events and nearly every restaurant in downtown Eureka is involved.”

The Pittsburgh  venues are favorite locations in the Holversons’ neighborhood. Raffle baskets are filled with generous donations from downtown merchants and entertainers. 

Ticket holders will get a chance to sample appetizers at four restaurants and listen to up to 15 musical performances. The larger ensembles will perform in the Lobby of the PNC Tower. Tickets are only $30 and are available at https://PittsburghSymphonyAssociation.org.  Only 300 tickets will be sold, and tickets must be purchased before October 27, 2019.

“Join us November 3rd, 2:00 -5:00 pm, to support the PSO and enjoy the talents of some of the city’s best young musicians.”

The Pittsburgh Symphony Association (PSA) supports and promotes the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and its musicians through fundraising, community outreach, educational programs, audience development and special events.


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