Kennywood's 'Holiday Lights' Shine

Move over, chestnuts roasting on an open fire—the Potato Patch is open!


Photo by Dave DiCello

There are plenty of Pittsburgh traditions to embrace each holiday season: Light Up Nights, The Nutcracker, The Rink at PPG Place. Still, one iconic locale has always remained shuttered: Kennywood. 

‘Til now, that is. This month, guests will receive their first-ever glimpse of the park as a winter wonderland—complete with lights, caroling, seasonal snacks (think kettle corn and s’mores) and Potato Patch fries.

“People have never seen Kennywood lit up like this,” says Jeff Filicko, Kennywood’s public relations manager.

During the 100-plus years of operation, Kennywood has never opened for the holidays. So, why now?

“This is something we’ve talked about for many years,” Filicko explains, “especially since we’ve opened [during] weekends in September and October. Halloween Fright Nights have been very successful—this was their 10th season.”

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights festivities are limited to the front half of the park, mostly around the lagoon near the Jack Rabbit and The Racer. There will be hundreds of thousands of lights on display, including 68 8-foot LED Christmas trees (accounting for more than 18,000 individual lights). 

Rides like the Log Jammer and the roller coasters can’t operate during the winter, but a number will be running: the Merry-Go-Round, the Kangaroo, the Paratrooper and several attractions in Kiddieland. Having received a fresh holiday makeover, The Olde Kennywood Railroad will also be in operation this winter.

New attractions—from a look at It’s a Wonderful Life, courtesy of the Jimmy Stewart Museum, to an ornate model-train display—have also been brought in specifically for the event. Additionally, local choirs and bell-ringing groups, who enthusiastically volunteered to be a part of the experience, will be present to perform various holiday tunes.

“The same day that we announced the event, people started coming to us,” Filicko says. “There’s been a great deal of interest.”

That’s not to imply that turning Kennywood into a winter wonderland has been effortless. To make it happen, the park staff purchased a dazzling array of holiday décor and made tough decisions about which rides could operate—and those were just the most obvious hurdles.

With all the changes, big and small, it’s certain that people will see the classic landmark in a new light. Milk and cookies may become a thing of the past once Santa tastes Potato Patch fries.

>>Info:
4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin

Dec. 2-18: Fri.-Sun., 5-9 p.m.
Tickets: $12.99
Info, tickets: 412/461-0500, kennywood.com

Hot Reads

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.

The 412

Pittsburgh is One of the Most Cycling-Friendly U.S. Cities

Pittsburgh is One of the Most Cycling-Friendly U.S. Cities

Bicycling mag ranks the Steel City at No. 21 on its list of 50 metropolises.
Thrival Festival Rocked Bakery Square 2.0

Thrival Festival Rocked Bakery Square 2.0

Relive the two-day event that was part innovation and part musical brilliance.
Cameras Roll for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Cameras Roll for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Although shooting has begun for this flick, plan to catch Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood while they’re out on the town, not during film production.
Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Headlights Aim to Make Life Easier

Carnegie Mellon’s Smart Headlights Aim to Make Life Easier

CMU’s Robotics Institute may help to make nighttime driving a little easier on the eyes.

Hot Reads

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.
From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.