Miller vigil at Blue Slide Park attracts thousands

Written By Nick Horwat, The Globe

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On a normal day Squirrel Hill’s Blue Slide Park is full of kids sliding down a legendary slide, but on Sept. 11 it held host to thousands of people who flocked to honor a late Pittsburgh rapper.

On Sept. 7 it was reported that Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller had passed away due to a suspected drug overdose. The exact cause of death is yet to be determined.

The news of his death shook not only his home city, but the music world as a whole. Many musicians like Drake, J. Cole and Elton John gave heartfelt tributes to the late rapper.

A vigil was held at Frick Park’s Blue Slide Park on Sept. 11. The park was the inspiration behind Miller’s debut album “Blue Slide Park,” as well as the backdrop for multiple music videos.

Not only was the park a fond place for Miller, but other locals as well.

“To me Blue Slide Park means everything,” Brandon Sacca, an Allderdice High School alumni, said. “To hear an album about a place that I spent a large chunk of my time growing up was awesome.”

Thousands of people gathered at the park and the mood was anything but somber. It was a time to reflect on the life that Miller lived. His music played throughout the night while friends and fans alike came together to sing along and celebrate his life and legacy, creating a concert-like atmosphere.

Hit songs such as “Knock Knock” and “Loud” played with great joy for the crowd. While songs like “Best Day Ever” and “Youforia” held moments that seemed to mellow the atmosphere. With lighters and candles held high, the mourners sang along.

The only song played that did not feature Miller was Jimmy Wopo’s “Elm Street.” Wopo was another Pittsburgh rapper who died just a few months prior.

The top of the slide turned into a main spot for fans to leave flowers, mementos and candles to honor the rapper, while surrounding fences in the park also held more memories.

“Knowing that someone grew up in the same area as me could be as big as he was and make this much of a difference,” Sacca said. “He meant hope and a chance that I can fulfill my dreams.”

Local artist Zachary Rutter was also at the top of the slide painting a portrait of Miller. The painting will be auctioned off by Rutter and the proceeds will be going to substance abuse and addiction awareness.

Multiple artists were set up all around the park creating new works of art in honor of Miller.

As night fell, the crowd only grew while candles and lighters lit up the park. Attendants began to climb playground equipment and trees to get a better view of the events.

“I think the vigil demonstrated Pittsburgh’s sense of community,” attendant Sam Francis said. “People coming in from all over to think about his life and his music and how he affected all
of us.”

In the midst of the music and remembrance, Miller’s grandmother, Marcia Weiss, was given a microphone to say a few words to the crowd.

“He would be so excited to see this if he was here,” Weiss said to the crowd. “He loves you all and he loves Pittsburgh and everything that you have done for him.”

Weiss was sporting a black sweater that featured the “Blue Slide Park” artwork.

It may have been an upbeat and active atmosphere, but there was still the sense that it was a time to reflect. That was seen most when fans started sitting on both sides of the famous slide.

Miller, a Point Breeze native, loved the city of Pittsburgh. The vigil at Blue Slide Park showed that the city and its residents loved
him back.

“Mac Miller meant a lot to the city of Pittsburgh,” Francis said. “When you’re from Pittsburgh you feel that sense of community, and he was a large part of it.”

In the wake of his death and his vigil, a petition has been started to change the name of the park to honor Mac Miller.

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