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Wind could shoot down Pittsburgh’s First Night fireworks

Megan Guza
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Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Highmark First Night Pittsburgh will celebrate its 25th anniversary with two Zambelli Fireworks shows on Dec. 31.

The fireworks meant to ring in the New Year at Pittsburgh’s First Night celebration are up in the air because of weather concerns, officials said Monday morning.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for much of Western Pennsylvania from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. Tuesday, predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.

“Unlike last year, the temperature should be mild,” said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. “Our concern is the winds, which are scheduled to arrive just about the same time as the fireworks, so the fireworks will probably be a, shall we say, game-time decision.”

He said the decision will likely have to be made within two hours of the scheduled start time and be made in conjunction with the fireworks company, the city’s fire department and First Night organizers. He said the smaller 6 p.m. fireworks display should not be hindered.

Rain is expected throughout most of the day. The fireworks are set to be lit from atop the Theater Square parking garage on Penn Avenue.

“The rain will probably not be a problem as much as the wind,” Hissrich said. “Shooting the fireworks off with potential 50 mph gusts and 25 mph sustained winds could be problematic.”

Deputy Chief Thomas Stangrecki reiterated that there will be no tolerance for revelers who shoot indiscriminately into the air to ring in 2019.

“We discourage anyone from, at midnight, firing off any firearms or fireworks,” Stangrecki said, noting that doing so could result in criminal charges. “Maybe do something else instead – bang a pot. Something that’s safer (and) no one’s going to get hurt.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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