Crowds thin at My Macy's Holiday Parade

| Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Whether put off by bone-chilling cold or slick roads that made some travel treacherous, crowds at the My Macy's Holiday Parade on Saturday were thinner than usual, regulars said.

Thousands still lined Downtown streets to watch everything from high school marching bands to puppeteer “The Amazing Christopher” dance with four Michael Jackson puppets and Buddy the dog re-enact Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception.

“I grew up coming down here,” said Sherri Starr, 43, of West Mifflin, who brought daughters Jasmine, 6, and Olivia, 4, to marvel at several balloon characters. “I wanted them to have the same experience.”

Pittsburgh police were unable to provide a crowd estimate on Saturday.

Though the crowds were heavy as usual along Grant Street and near Macy's department store, they were sparse along other portions, including near the intersection of Fifth and Liberty avenues.

After the parade, some spectators ducked into Macy's for some shopping and to get warm.

At nearby One Oxford Centre, only a few patrons strolled past a handful of open stores, or took part in face painting and making balloon animals shortly after the parade ended.

“We're in an office building, so people might not be aware we're here,” said Carol Zimmerman, owner of the Kountz and Rider men's clothing store. But with officials offering free carriage rides and other attractions to lure shoppers Downtown, “They're doing what they can to promote it.”

Several smaller businesses said they were busier Nov. 17, during the second day of the Light Up Weekend, but some of the larger attractions, including the skating rink at PPG Place, still attracted hundreds of people.

Crowds also poured into Market Square to watch a short display of daytime fireworks celebrating the unveiling of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market.

The market features wooden booths with vendors selling items, including glass Christmas ornaments, German collectibles, folk art and some food, including strudel. The market is modeled after those found in Northern Europe, and is inspired by the Christkindlmarket founded in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany.

“This is wonderful that this is here,” said Judy Casturo, 70, of the North Shore, a retired Upper St. Clair School District German teacher. “You can feel it. You can come and feel the joy.”

The holiday market opens daily at 11 a.m. and runs through Dec. 23.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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