Haydn Thomas is The King -- the undisputed dean of Pittsburgh tour guides. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dubbed him one of Pittsburgh's ambassadors, because he is.
Haydn is an historian, a storyteller, a teacher, a doting father and grandfather, a world traveler, and above all else, a Western Pennsylvania original. He's trekked across America and traversed the world--he spends his winters in places like Abu Dhabi--but he always finds his way home to the mill town of Munhall where he was born, raised, and has lived his entire life. The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, he says, is "the most magnificent building I've ever seen--after the Munhall Borough Building."
Haydn got his masters degree in history from Thiel College, served a stint as a teacher in the Bahamas, then went to work for General Motors in West Mifflin. After enough adventures to fill several lifetimes, this spellbinder found Haunted Pittsburgh and immediately became a fan-favorite.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette nailed it: "Mr. Thomas didn't get this job by being frightening. On the contrary, he came to it through his talkativeness, his passion for history and his love for the city of Pittsburgh."
For Haydn, every tour is opening night at the Benedum. Every story, the grand finale at a Zambelli's firework show. Guests use words like "awesome" and "rousing" to describe him. A chaperone for a high school group told us the "kids hung on his every word and stuck to his heels like he was the Pied Piper." Even life-long Pittsburghers find themselves picking up their dropped jaws and wondering, who is this master showman who knows so much more about our hometown than we do?
It's no surprise that Haydn gets a hearty ovation when he's finished -- they often line up to shake his hand, even hug him, like they're backstage congratulating Sinatra or Springsteen after a show. And he gets tips. (Oh, my, does he get tips.) What may be unprecedented is that some folks actually start clapping in the middle of the tour.
It's little surprise that for a lot of people, Haydn is their favorite joke teller. Rest assured, you won't be hearing any of those jokes on the Historic Pittsburgh tour. We are a family-friendly outfit.