When I was a kid, Downtown was open during the Christmas season on Mondays and Thursdays until 9 p.m. (everybody knew that). On those days, I could park in town for free if I bought $5 worth of merchandise from any of the big three department stores, Horne's, Gimbels or Kaufmann's.
My favorite was Horne's. I could park in the Stanwix Garage and walk across onto the third floor of Horne's. Horne's (and the others) during the Christmas season was magical. Riding the escalator from the third to the ninth floor and back down to the first was to savor all that was desirable for Christmas. If the inside wasn't engrossing enough, looking at the windows outside of Horne's, Gimbels or Kaufmann's was sufficient to keep me and a date occupied for the evening.
During the day, radio personalities broadcast from inside windows at each of the three. Farkleberry Tarts were available for a donation to Children's Hospital.
All this is so close in memory, yet so far removed from today. We were all Pittsburghers during the Christmas season, no matter where we lived in the surrounding counties.
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