‘We need Light Up Night’ more than ever, organizers say
Comcast Light Up Night organizers believe Pittsburgh needs the traditional event this season more than ever in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting at Tree of Life Congregation.
“It is difficult to talk about the holidays after such a tragedy,” said Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which hosts the annual event. “But when I thought about what I was going to say I thought the holidays are about family and community, and that Pittsburgh can use Light Up Night as a way to re-connect during the season of love, joy and union.”
The holiday season will definitely have a different tone, said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
“The world has seen how close knit of a community we are,” Fitzgerald said. “My neighborhood is Squirrel Hill where the annual Menorah parade is held which will bring us all together to create unity just like Light Up Night will. Pittsburgh is known as a big city, but we are a small town in this the upcoming season of love, unity and peace as we support those families who lost loved ones and the injured who are healing.”
A moment of silence was held prior to the Thursday opening news conference Downtown where Waldrup and other area sponsors discussed the festivities.
The 58th annual event begins Nov. 16.
Light Up Night has extended its hours to allow for more live music performances starting earlier in the evening and going later, adding a laser show as part of the Highmark Tree Lighting and a later fireworks show at 10 p.m.
New this year :
The newest addition this year is an expanded Holiday KidsPlay partnership with Fred Rogers Productions. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” this holiday attraction will feature programming from Pittsburgh’s first family of children’s programming including “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Odd Squad,” “Peg + Cat,” and “Through the Woods.”
Holiday KidsPlay is a free program that will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday beginning Nov. 17 (as well as Nov. 23) and every day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
“As we come together to heal we know parents and caregivers are struggling with how to talk to children about this tragedy,” said Paul Siefken, president and CEO of Fred Rogers Production.
Located in the Heinz Hall courtyard at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Sixth Street, guests will be invited to drop off a new or gently-used sweater as part of The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s annual Mister Rogers Sweater Drive. Sweaters will be donated across the Pittsburgh community.
Headlining the entertainment on the Comcast Main Stage will be Grammy-winning national recording artists, A Great Big World, known for their chart-topping single, “Say Something.” The BNY Mellon New Music Stage at Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Sixth Street will feature breakout YouTube sensation Elley Duhe, who has racked up more than 11 million monthly streams and viewings of her single, “Happy Now.”
The Bank of America Rocking’ Blues Stage, at Stannic Street and Penn Avenue welcomes Pittsburgh’s own Joe Grushecky and Jeff Jimerson. At the EQT Jazzmasters Stage on Liberty Avenue guests will be James Torme, son of legendary crooner Mel Torme who will entertain the audience with a rendition of his father’s much-loved Christmas song, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”
The Peoples Gas Holiday Market returns to Market Square for a seventh year.
The European-inspired Christmas market will host more than 30 vendors of international and locally handcrafted gifts housed in Alpine-style chalets, an entertainment stage featuring local performing groups and bands, and a whimsical Santa’s House.
The market opens on Light Up Night through Dec. 23. It will be closed on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22.
There will also the return of the Colcom stage Holiday Karaoke Contest every Monday and Tuesday evening with the winner being awarded $1,000.
There will be a light show every evening featuring more than 150,000 lights and a spectacular 35-foot tall sphere tree choreographed to a medley of contemporary and classic holiday tunes. It is lit by the same company that illuminated the Eiffel Tower in France.
JoAnne Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062 or [email protected] or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.