McKeesport Residents Remember JFK Visit On Anniversary Of His Assassination

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In Kennedy Park in McKeesport stands a statue of President John F. Kennedy, commissioned three days after the president was shot in Dallas.

But Mayor Michael Cherepko also recalls, “It was back in 1962, when John F. Kennedy stood here for an 11-minute speech.”

Twenty-five thousand turned out the October day in McKeesport. Patrick Reddington wasn’t there, but his father was.

“This is President Kennedy here,” he says, holding a photograph. “And this is my dad way back here. He was a detective at the time, and he was part of the security team.”

The now-closed Penn McKee Hotel is the site of Kennedy’s first visit to McKeesport, back in 1947. He was a young congressman debating another up and coming congressman by the name of Richard M. Nixon. But the McKeesport’s big moment came 15 years later.

“I was short and had a hard time seeing what was going on,” says Steve Kondrosky. He was 10 years old at the time. “And I was impressed by the amount of people that were protecting him.”

Police officer Eugene George Gimbrall, Jr. was a police officer, on security detail.

“You felt that, looking at him and the words that came out of his mouth, that he was going to do something for the country for everybody,” Gimbrall says. “Level the playing field. Make it equal for all.”

“He shook hands with every on of us,” Rose Chiaverini says. “And it wasn’t just a handshake. He held your hand.”

And then, the cheering stopped. But McKeesport will never forget its moment in the spotlight.

When Pres. Kennedy was shot in 1963, CBS News went on the air – and stayed there for four days. Watch the original reporting by clicking here:

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