56th annual Light up Night celebrations

Written By Hannah Walden

On November 18th, Pittsburgh hosted its 56th annual Comcast Light Up Night with a long list of events that took over the city for the majority of the day, closing down some streets and redirecting Port Authority bus routes.

It was a calm night with good weather, perfect for a day and night full of events and celebration. All events are free, outdoor and accessible with something for everyone.

Events included the City-County Building Bicentennial Tree Lighting and the U.S Steel Tower Dedication of the Creche, both started at noon. Quickly followed by the Allegheny Courthouse lighting at 12:30 p.m.

The next large event was the PPG Plaza Tree Lighting at 5:30 p.m. that included the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink opening ceremony. The ceremony included Robert Morris University Island Sports figure skaters with an on-ice interpretation of the Polar Express to kick off the night’s festivities. Followed by the East End Kids, a group of talented kids who followed a professional performance with just as much elegance. Following the East End Kids, was the American Cancer Society’s Tribute of Light, as 300 people carried lights that were dedicated to someone who has been affected by cancer. The ice rink didn’t open for the general public until midnight.

Next event on the schedule was the One Oxford Center tree lighting that was at 5:45 p.m. The event included the lighting of the 30-foot Christmas tree and the welcome of Santa Claus, who made an appearance.

Other events that took place at One Oxford Centre included free horse drawn carriage rides that went to Fourth Avenue. Another event was with Santa and his reindeer, which included free indoor activities for children that consisted of caricatures, face painting and free balloon art. Both of these events lasted from 6-9 p.m. that night.

One event at One Oxford Centre that lasted during the entire duration of all events was the Rick Gallagher Trio, who performed live holiday music from 5:30pm to 9pm.

At the same time of One Oxford Centre, BNY Mellon hosted Santa Lights BNY Mellon Season of Lights at Market Square with a light show where Santa flips the switch every half hour and turns on more than 150,000 lights on a 35 feet high Sphere Tree that had synchronized holiday music. The show started at 5:45pm and repeated multiple times throughout the night.

Also in Market Square is the People’s Gas Holiday Market, where people sell handmade goods that are perfect for the gift giving season, including miniature glass figures of different animals, jewelry and much more. This Holiday Market was inspired by the original German Markets “Christkindlmarkt”, as the small wooden booths were built to mimic the German original.

Another event that took place at 7 p.m. was the Highmark Unity tree lighting that proceeded with fireworks. This 100-foot tree is actually sitting on the side of the building and has over 2,000 ornaments and 2,500 eco-friendly white bulbs. After the lighting, there was live music including Roger Barbour Jazz Quartet and the Max Leake Trio.

Not to mention the Energy Flow Bridge Lighting at the Rachel Carson Bridge. Here, people witnessed the collaboration between environmental artist Andrea Poli and Ron Gdovic of Windstax, a wind turbine manufacturer located in Pittsburgh. Together they create Energy Flow, which combines light and wind to create a temporary light display. This project was chosen after a national call for different bridge lighting ideas and was commissioned for the celebration.

Throughout the festivities, there were multiple concerts going on across the city from 6 p.m. to around 9 p.m. The locations consisted of the Comcast Main Stage, where local artists such as Jimbo and the Soupbones, Beauty Slap and O.A.R. performed.

There was also a concert at the BNY Mellon New Music Stage that had local pop artists Daily Grind, HEAF, Gabby Barrett and Daya.

The third location of another concert was at the Northwest Bank Rockin’ Blue Stage, where local artists such as Jeff Jimerson, Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers and Miss Freddye played and sang the blues and rock n’ roll.

The fourth and final concert took place at the EQT Jazzmasters Stage, with local jazz musicians such as TV star and recording artist Gloria Reuben, the Duquesne University Jazz Ensemble featuring vocalist Natalie Tomaro and Dane Vannatter with the MCG Jazz Quintet featuring special guest Steve Rudolph.

The night of celebration ended with a fireworks show. The show lasted about 15 minutes starting at 8:30 p.m. and were launched from a barge on the Allegheny River. The second and much larger show started at 9:30 p.m. and was launched from Ft. Duquesne Blvd. as the Roberto Clemente Bridge was closed due to construction. These fireworks could have been seen from a number of locations including Point State Park, atop of Mt. Washington, across the river by PNC Park or any number of nearby locations.

Many Point Park University students attended events throughout the day, many of which were first year students.

“I’ve never been to one of these before, but this was a really cool experience,” said Shae Wofford, a Senior sports, arts and entertainment management major. ”There was a lot of stuff to do, a lot of different things to eat and to see.”

This was a day filled with event after event and was perfectly scheduled where there was a lot to do and no matter what part of the city one event was located, there was another event shortly after. It worked out so well that even students enjoyed the scheduling of events.

“I really love how the people of Pittsburgh get into the Christmas season,” said Donte DeBose, a Junior Animation major. “There are so many different events and there is always something to do. There isn’t a reason to stay home.”

Light Up Night is an event that many people anticipate all year, and for good reason. A day and night packed with events, concerts, shows, tree lightings and fireworks there isn’t a reason why anyone should stay home and miss a moment.