The holiday season will officially hit Downtown Pittsburgh tomorrow as Christmas trees are lit, bands begin to play, and the city celebrates the 52nd annual Light Up Night.
This year’s Light Up Night begins at noon Friday as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl lights the City's official Christmas tree at the City-County Building and the U.S. Steel Plaza dedicates its crèche simultaneously. The county lights its tree later that afternoon.
Beginning at 5 p.m. bands will start playing from three stages set up Downtown; the Northwest Savings Bank Stage in Market Square, the EQT Jazzmasters Stage in EQT Plaza, and the Trib Total Media Bridge Party on the Clemente Bridge.
Light Up Night features four tree lightings, the last being the 7 p.m. lighting of the Highmark Unity Tree.
Mary Ann Papale, Director of Community Affairs at Highmark, said some people come down to Light Up Night to see what is new, but not everyone.
“People are also looking for the traditions, and they want to make sure that those traditions are still in place,” said Papale. “We’re proud of the fact that the lighting of the Unity Tree has been a popular thing that has gone on on Light Up Night since 1953, and we’re continuing that tradition.”
New to Light Up Night is Celebrate Santa!, a new stage show where Santa Claus throws the switch on the "Market Square Season of Light," a musically-choreographed display of 150,000 LED's and a 33-foot tall one-ton spherical tree.
Lindsay Berdell, Director of Promotions for Trib Total Media, says they are working to promote Operation Santa Claus during the festivities.
“Operation Santa Claus has provided holiday meals to hundreds of thousands of needy families throughout our region,” said Berdell. “We raise money to purchase groceries and our volunteers pack those groceries into bags to distribute to families served by the Salvation Army.”
This is the 26th year that Operation Santa Claus is helping needy families in Southwest Pennsylvania. Its has a goal this year of raising $120,000 to feed more than 7,000 families.
Friday’s Light Up Night draws to a close at 9:38 p.m. with a fireworks display over the Warhol Bridge.
For people who can’t make it into the city on Friday, the festivities continue into Saturday with music in Market Square and the 3rd annual Mascot Skate at the Ring at PPG Place.