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Pittsburgh's family-friendly First Night festivities expand

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 8:52 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Calvin Stemley, a member of the House of Soul, performs at a press conference announcing the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013 agenda at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, Downtown on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Amber Liggett, 16, of Beaver sits at a press conference announcing the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013 agenda at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, Downtown on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Brady Wegener, 18, of Brackenridge known as 'Klass Klown' performs at a press conference announcing the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013 agenda at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, Downtown on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Kevin McMahon, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, speaks at a press conference announcing the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013 agenda at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, Downtown on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Calvin Stemley, a member of the House of Soul, performs at a press conference announcing the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013 agenda at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, Downtown on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

The Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2013 celebration New Year's Eve in Downtown will be bigger and notably brighter this year, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust officials said.

The trust, which has produced First Night for the past decade, is offering 100-plus activities and events in 45 venues throughout the Cultural District, and some of the most-popular features — like the Fire & Ice Plaza and Steel Town Fire Comedy Club — will be moved to bigger locations. And, the popular First Night Parade — featuring giant puppets, art cars, marching bands, bicycles and more — will be illuminated throughout with a special light theme, beyond just the usual street lights. The puppets and the art cars will be lit up.

This year's First Night, expected to draw 40,000 to 50,000 revelers, includes all of the event's staples: dance, live music, theater, comedy, magic, visual art and film, and hands-on activities for children and adults.

“And, of course, fireworks,” Darcy Kucenic, director of the event, said at a Tuesday news conference. New Castle, Lawrence County-based Zambelli Fireworks will provide the early show and the ending performance at midnight.

Festivities will start at 6 p.m. with the Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks Display, and a performance by “American Idol” semifinalist and Washington County native Adam Brock and his Soul Band on the Dollar Bank Stage at Seventh Street and Penn Avenue.

Festivities will continue throughout the evening with events including the parade, which will begin at 8 p.m., and numerous smaller activities. Guests of all ages can enjoy hands-on activities at the First National Bank Family Tent, performances by musicians House of Soul at the Benedum Center and River City Brass at the Byham Theater, magic shows and more. About 90 percent of activities are held inside on the cold December night, Kucenic said.

The event will conclude with the Countdown to Midnight and Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale ball-raising and roughly 10-minute fireworks show.

Although adults can buy alcohol inside bars and restaurants, all First Night activities are dry, which helps create the happy family atmosphere, said Kevin McMahon, president and chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

“We've tried to (capture) the essence of what First Night represents,” he said. “It's family-friendly, alcohol-free and arts-centric.

“It's all about ... there is something for anyone of all ages,” McMahon said.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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