Valentine’s Day is fun for all

Published Feb 17, 2014 at 10:35 am (Updated Feb 17, 2014 at 10:35 am)

C arrying a bow and quiver of arrows, Cupid, the ancient Roman god of love has been popping up all around the South Hills. And since this new year began, store windows, TV ads and magazine covers have also been filling with hearts and flowers. Valentine’s Day is a fun time for all ages.

Maybe it’s a cuddly bear sporting a big red heart, sweaters in reds and pinks, or jewelry dangling with hearts that you hope to buy for or receive from that special one in your life. An intimate dinner is also a winner for this special day set aside for love and romance. Or, are you one who plans surprise vacations for your sweetie or one who prefers simplicity, perhaps purchasing personalized M&M’s boasting your own heart-felt messages?

Possibly this story of love and romance will warm your heart.

It’s about a special pair, Wilson and Bella. Adopted at a young age, Wilson was very happy to be welcomed into a new home and family. Before long he fell for a shy little girl named Bella, who lived there, too. Bella had a special talent and soon headed to New York to find fame and fortune. Wilson was heartbroken and quickly took off to find the love of his life and the rest, well, you’ll have to read the book.

This special Valendine’s Day story, “Wilson & Bella’s Big Apple Adventure!” is for book-loving children or even the young-at-heart. Award-winning artist, author and illustrator, Susan Castriota of Upper St. Clair recently published this new volume in her “Willie Wilson’s Wondrous Tails” children’s book series. Susan’s canine pal Bella sports an “I Love New York” bandana as Wilson searches for Bella at famous places and landmarks in the big city.

Number five in the “Wilson” series, this story is both entertaining and educational. A breast cancer survivor, Susan donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the “Big Apple Adventure” books to support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. For details, visit

Susan and her live canines, Wilson and Bella, will be on hand in the near future at various venues around the South Hills. Look for them at noon Feb. 22 at The Galleria, Author Day at Chartiers Valley Primary School March 4, and for a book signing and talk at Westminster Presbyterian Church March 30.

The Legend

February has long been referred to as the month of romance, created with both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. Steeped in legend and mystery, Valentine’s Day is more of a secular holiday than a religious one. The first official St. Valentine’s Day was said to be declared by Pope Gelasius on Feb. 14 in memory of a martyred priest in Rome in the year 496. Handmade valentines reportedly were exchanged in the early 1700s. By the 1840s, the first mass-produced valentines were sent in America.

Valentine Fun

Looking for a night out? Check these.

• Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s “Swan Lake,” Feb. 13-16 at the Benedum.

• Baldwin Players’ sweet tale of a lifelong romance in “Love Letters” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Castle Shannon Municipal Bldg. Tickets are $10. Call 412-881-1002.

• Bubbles for Your Valentine, 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at Dreadnought Wines in the Strip District. Discuss and sip four wines for $15 per person. Call 412-391-1709.

• Phipps Conservatory offers a members-only Valentine’s Day dinner 7-10 p.m. Feb. 14 and February Free Days through Feb. 28.

• For a quiet night at home, the early days of Hollywood films offer marvelous entertainment. Surprise your sweetie with “Son of the Sheik” starring Rudolph Valentino, released in 1926 or Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor starring in “Camille,” released in 1936.

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