Over thirty years ago Ross Finbow came to the US from the UK, and quickly established himself as a fixture in North American ringing. For decades before there were bells in Pittsburgh Ross was regularly making long trips to many North American towers to help the bands there. When Southminster's bells were installed Ross trained the fledgling band, and called the first peal on the bells, half the band being local ringers. While he has been a mainstay of the Pittsburgh band ever since, he has also continued to regularly visit a host of other North American towers. Ross also started the popular, annual ringing course held in Pittsburgh every year, that has benefited ringers from towers across North America. With over 200 peals rung for the North American Guild, Ross is also one of the Guild's ten most prolific peal ringers.
So we were all saddened to learn Ross will be moving back to the UK shortly. However, as a "goodbye" he arranged a delightful weekend in Pittsburgh for many of those with whom he's rung over the years, combining two of his favorite activities: peal ringing and beer drinking! As always, his arrangements were meticulous, though in this case even more complex and demanding. In the end ten ringers from Boston, Carmel, Kalamazoo, Pittsburgh and Toronto joined to help wish Ross a fond farewell.
The weekend began gently, with a party featuring beer, nibbles, and a specially made cake from Uptown Coffee. It was held at 51 Castle Shannon Boulevard, a house in which plans for Southminster getting bells were probably hatched, and which, even after Tom and Jessica Flynn sold it on leaving Pittsburgh, remains a regular fixture of Pittsburgh ringing.
While one of the peals ended up being of a different method than originally planned, we were three for three on the weekend, starting with what was Ross's 200th for the North American Guild:
While his attention to detail in the peal arrangements was formidable, it was vastly surpassed by that for the pub crawl. The plan was to start immediately after Saturday morning's peal, and visit eight different Pittsburgh microbreweries and interesting pubs, traveling entirely by foot and public transportation. We were largely successful in this ambitious endeavor, surviving the travel nightmare of a downtown Taylor Swift concert, adding a couple of trips via Uber, and missing out only one of the planned pubs because it closed too early. Patrons at many of the venues were fascinated by the shirts Ross provided to us all, with a map of our eight destinations on it, a useful safeguard for some of the more enthusiastic drinkers. Fortunately Southminster service ringing time is relatively late, so all were recovered in time the next morning. And, most importantly, David did not lose his hat!
Ringers from Boston, Carmel, Kalamazoo, Pittsburgh and Toronto converged in Pittsburgh to wish Ross Finbow farewell after over three decades of ringing in North America, with weekend of peals and pub crawling.