Families flock to Downtown Pittsburgh for annual Light Up Night festivities
They filtered into the city, slowly at first, late on Friday afternoon, some pushing strollers, others holding hands and huddling under umbrellas.
They were determined to celebrate Pittsburgh's annual Light Up Night.
Before nightfall, the rain stopped, the crowds swelled and Pittsburgh did not disappoint, putting on a show that began with the lighting of eight Christmas trees across Downtown and ending with a fireworks spectacular.
The holiday kickoff got under way early in the afternoon at the courthouse, where Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald lit LED lights installed at the top of the 325-foot tower. A crowd gathered at the corner of Grant Street and Forbes Avenue at noon to watch the tower shine red and green for the first time in its 125-year history.
Later in the afternoon, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hit the switch on the city's Christmas tree outside the City-County Building. The 45-foot-tall, 6,000-pound Colorado spruce was donated by the North Side's New Life Family Worship Center.
Several hundred people attended the event featuring The Salvation Army Brass and Bell Ringers Ensemble and the Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 Concert Choir.
Ravenstahl, who is leaving office in January, encouraged people to take advantage of the city's two-day holiday celebration.
“It's a safe environment. It's a wonderful opportunity for shoppers, not just at our big stores but our smaller shops and boutiques,” he said.
Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said Light Up Night, now in its 53rd year, has become a tradition that draws families from across the region. Some 800,000 attended the two-day event last year, and the group hoped to draw a similar number this year.
“Folks have been bringing their kids here for generations. Pittsburgh loves the holidays. It's Christmas crazy,” Waldrup said.
Downtown merchants were upbeat as crowds began to build.
“This is our busiest weekend of the year. It's a nice, family-oriented event. I just love seeing this whole transformation of the city,” said Kimberly Coppola as shoppers streamed in and out of Serendipity, her accessory shop just off Market Square.
“It's good. It brings people Downtown. They see what's here and some come back,” said Jeff Horvath as he worked the cash register at Heinz Healey's men's shop on Fifth Avenue.
Linda and Gary Reed of Pine, who were back for their third Light Up Night, planned to spend the night in the city and meet their son and his friends, who were traveling from Waynesburg College. The crowds, the music, the shops, the lights and the fireworks that cap the evening are all part of the draw.
“We love it,” said Linda Reed, as she made her way through Fifth Avenue Place.
Indeed, the mood was festive throughout the city as musicians performed on outdoor stages from Mellon Square to the Clemente Bridge. At Market Square, busy restaurants ringed an outdoor holiday market ready to open for business on Saturday morning, while skaters swirled across the holiday rink that surrounds the Christmas tree at PPG Place.
Other attractions on Saturday include the fourth annual Trib Total Media Candlelight Horse-drawn Carriage Parade, which begins at 6 p.m. on Liberty Avenue.
Inside the Wintergarden at PPG Place, Tyler McKee, 5, of Penn Hills stood awestruck as model trains circled a giant Christmas tree surrounded by a virtual city of gingerbread houses.
“Look, look, Dad. Here it comes,” he said, grabbing his father, Pete McKee, by the hand, as a train made its way out of a tunnel.
“He's really excited about Christmas,” McKee said.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.