“It was an unfortunate oversight in scheduling,” said Megan Dardanell, county spokesperson.
The county’s Special Events Office had been working with Kennywood to find a date when the park would not be crowded, and when few other group or company picnics were scheduled. Not surprisingly, Sept. 18, the holiest date on the Jewish calendar, was open.
While the Special Events Office briefly considered holding the county’s picnic on Sept. 11, officials in the office decided against that date because they were “trying to be respectful,” Dardanell said.
A Jewish county employee brought the scheduling conflict to the attention of the event planners on Aug. 6 — the same date employees received mailers announcing the picnic, said Amy Staggs, special events coordinator for Allegheny County.
Those planning the event were unaware of the Yom Kippur conflict at the time of scheduling because religious holidays do not appear on the county calendar used by the Special Events Office, Dardanell said.
“We apologize, and it will not happen again,” she added.
No efforts were made to re-schedule the event because the Sept. 18 date had already been publicized to the county’s approximately 7,000 employees, Staggs said.
Instead, arrangements have been made for Allegheny county employees unable to attend the picnic on Sept. 18 to visit Kennywood at a reduced rate on any other date in September.
“We’re aware this is such a terrible mistake,” Staggs said, adding that this type of oversight would not be repeated.
“We’re buying a new calendar that has every possible holiday on it,” she said.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)