Pittsburgh light up night sparks holiday spirit
On Friday, November 20th, the city of Pittsburgh held its annual Light up Night, beginning with the iconic lighting of the tree in Market Square at 5:30 pm. The event was estimated to have attracted crowds of almost 500,000 people, the overwhelming presence of which was definitely felt.
Keystone Oaks High School Senior Conor Tokarsky, who attended the holiday kickoff, noted that “there was a lot to do and everything was fun, but there were just so many people and such big crowds that it was hard to enjoy… it took fifteen minutes to move a foot forward”.
The crowds were attracted not only by the lighting of the Christmas tree, but by the various notable performers such as local sensation Daya, who has gained popularity among her peers at Mount Lebanon High School and nationally alike with her hit song “Hideaway”, and pop entertainer JoJo, both of which performed on the Roberto Clemente bridge beginning at 6 pm. There were, in total, five stages for performances, giving way to a range of music by large and local groups alike.
While it was unfortunately too warm to make use of the iconic ice rink at PPG, Market Square was host to a holiday market filled with handmade goods, cultural pieces, and of course food. The holiday market was comprised of wooden booths that gave off a log-cabin vibe, heightening the festive spirit of the evening.
At both 7:00 and 9:30 pm fireworks were set off, but the best part of the evening was the wide array of food truck vendors on Smithfield Street, which ranged from Las Chicas Mexican food to the Pierogi truck. Trucks from local restaurants such as the Galleria’s BRGR also lined the entire street, giving way to an endless variety of tasty and affordable options. Furthermore, Smithfield Street was home to the homemade cookie stand, which featured flavors such as Snickers and Triple Chocolate.
The night was also host to free carriage rides, the annual St. Nicholas exhibit at the Wintergarden Holiday Display, sporting traditional Santas from around the world, and a convivial atmosphere at the William Penn Hotel, which offered a Gingerbread House Display. While the night had much to offer in the way of things to do, see, and buy, it was agreeably a draining experience, though one that was worth the exhaustion. This year’s light up night reflected the changing global atmosphere evinced by recent events in Paris, with a strong police presence, but was also a friendly reminder that despite distress, the community could get together and celebrate the arrival of such a unifying and hope-bringing season.