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Light Up Night to be a Celebration of Community

Saturday’s tragedy was present on the minds of those announcing the schedule for Light Up Night, the kickoff of Pittsburgh’s holiday season. But the 58th annual celebration was touted as a time for everyone to come together.

Photos by Renee Rosensteel

This year, more than ever, Light Up Night will be a chance for the community to come together, local officials said Thursday during the announcement of this year’s holiday lineup Downtown.

The 58th annual Comcast Light Up Night will take place Nov. 16 with extended hours, more free offerings, more food trucks and more musical performances.

But officials were mindful that it's a difficult week to make such a happy announcement.

“Light Up Night brings together people from every reach of our community,” said Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “Every neighborhood, age group, religion and race have been coming to Downtown Pittsburgh for generations on this one evening to be a part of something special: our amazing collective community.”

Photo by Lauren Davidson

A cheerful face at the announcement at One PPG Place was Daniel Tiger’s, whose presence marked a new, expanded Holiday KidsPlay Partnership with Fred Rogers Productions in honor of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The Holiday KidsPlay program will offer free activities in the Heinz Hall Courtyard themed around “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” and other kids’ shows “Odd Squad,” “Peg + Cat” and “Through the Woods.”

KidsPlay will run 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday during the holiday season as well as Black Friday and every day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Space is limited, and registration may be required for busy times.

At KidsPlay, children can take photos at Odd Squad HQ, with Peg and Cat, and with Daniel Tiger and his Neighborhood Trolley, and they can sit on the official replica of Mister Rogers’ iconic bench on loan from the Heinz History Center. They’ll also be able to decorate a paper ornament in the shape of Mister Rogers’ sweater to display on the Children’s Museum Thank You Tree and participate in numerous other activities. There will also be an opportunity to donate a new or gently used sweater as part of the Children’s Museum’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive during KidsPlay hours.

Light Up Night’s extended hours mean a later fireworks show, which will happen at 10 p.m. rather than 9:30 (with an earlier show at 7 p.m. as well) and more time for musical performances. Highlights include the Grammy Award-winning duo A Great Big World, singer/songwriter Elley Duhé in her Pittsburgh premiere, Joe Grushecky and James Tormé (son of Mel Tormé, who co-wrote “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).”

More than 30 food trucks will pop up around Downtown, including Emporio: A Meatball Joint, Nakama, Millie’s Homemade, BRGR and Edgars Best Tacos in Pittsburgh.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market will return for the seventh year from Nov. 16 through Dec. 23 (with the exception of Thanksgiving). More local and national vendors will be on display, including artists from Monmade, Pittsburgh’s craft business accelerator. Daniel Tiger will help to open the first Saturday of the market at 10 a.m. Nov. 17 and will be available for photos, and Santa will return to the market as well this year in his storybook home. Photos with Santa are free in exchange for a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Extended hours will be offered on weekends, with the market opening at 10 a.m. rather than 11 a.m.

Other events taking place around town will include free mini concerts by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Heinz Hall beginning at 7 p.m., the noon dedication of the Crèche at the U.S. Steel Tower, free horse drawn carriage rides from 6 to 9 p.m. on Fourth Avenue, and of course, the opening of the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink in PPG Place, which will remain open until midnight on Light Up Night.

At the closing of the press conference, Paul Siefken, President and CEO of Fred Rogers Productions, read a Fred Rogers quote about the holidays.

“I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story,” Rogers said. “The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.”

“In times like these, that familiarity will be a very comforting feeling,” Siefken said.

Full details and scheduled are available at downtownpittsburghholidays.com

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