Crowds greet a chilly 2013

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Snow flurries added to the festivities for revelers braving the cold Downtown on Monday as tens of thousands of people gathered to ring in 2013.

“It's a little colder than last year, and there is snow, but that's part of the fun,” said Darcy Kucenic, director of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Last year, 50,000 people attended First Night, when New Year's Eve was on a Saturday night and the weather was unseasonably mild.

Monday's forecast called for temperatures in the low 30s and light snow throughout the evening. A thick dusting had descended by the time the event kicked off at 6 p.m., but within an hour the flakes had tapered off.

It wasn't enough to deter many families who sloshed through slushy sidewalks to watch singers and artists perform.

Bethany and Mark Angle brought their bundled-up infants, Landon, 1, and Roman, 9 months, to town for a Zambelli fireworks display held at 6 p.m. geared for young ones who might not make it to midnight.

“It was a little slick,” Mark Angle, 35, said of the commute from their Dormont home. “It got bad quick.”

Ruth Craig and Matt Plunkett, both 34 of Stanton Heights, brought daughter Mara, 4, for her first First Night.

“It's very wintry and cool to see fireworks in the snow,” said Craig.

This year's celebration included 150 events scheduled in 45 venues throughout the city, with an emphasis on family–friendly activities, leading to the ball-raising atop Penn Avenue Place and Fifth Avenue Place at midnight.

American Idol semifinalist Adam Brock, a Washington County native, kicked off the party with a performance at Seventh Street and Penn Avenue. Pairs of people in their warmest parkas danced and sang along in the streets. Children tossed snowballs into a nearby fountain, and groups gathered around garbage can fires monitored by event volunteers.

Serving as marshals for this year's First Night Parade were “Pittsburgh Dad” creator Chris Preksta and star Curt Wootton. The duo's popular web series about a Yinzer everyman has had millions of views on YouTube, and they released a DVD in December.

“We're thrilled,” said Preksta, a Munhall native. “It's such a fantastic event.”

Wootton said his character likely would be happier if the Steelers were headed to the playoffs, but he's sure he'd love the parade.

“As long as he has somewhere to park, he's loving it,” Wootton said with a laugh.

Helene Finegold, 39, and Chuck Gottschalk, 45, of Point Breeze made the event a family affair with children Megan Gottschalk, 15, and Elsa, Rosie and James Blodgett, ages 6, 8 and 9 respectively. All were adorned with festive head wear, including fuzzy hats and neon mohawks.

“We came last year and had so much fun we came back,” said Chuck Gottschalk.

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

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