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Thousands throng city square for 2-day event

Gazing down from a perch atop her father’s shoulders, Emma Bruno, 4, sang along with the CLO Mini-Stars to “Here Comes Santa Claus” in PPG Plaza, Downtown.

“I can’t wait for Christmas,” the White Oak girl said. “Santa’s going to come to my house.”

Throngs of families, couples, teenagers and college students headed Downtown on Friday to help the city kick off the holiday season with the 50th annual Light Up Night celebration. City officials said they expected about 200,000 people to attend.

“This is my favorite time of the year and one of my favorite events of all time,” said Barbara Dimsko, 67, of Avalon. “I’ve gotta hand it to the city; Light Up Night gets better every year.”

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership puts on the event, which this year stretches over two days. The partnership added today to celebrate the 50th anniversary and to encourage people to visit Pittsburgh and stay for the weekend.

The first night was marred by reports of numerous fights, prompting a police crackdown to try to quell the violence. Much of the trouble was centered along Sixth, Seventh, Wood and Smithfield streets. Uniformed and plainclothes officers along with K-9 units and motorcycle officers were used to break up the skirmishes.

An 18-year-old man was shot in the groin during a fight near Smithfield Street and Liberty Avenue.

Throughout the day, thousands of people — bundled up in hats and winter coats — walked along the streets taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Macy’s department store revealed its window display; Mayor Luke Ravenstahl flipped the switch on nearly 150,000 lights in the newly redesigned Market Square.

Eight-year-old Madison Woyt of Baldwin stuffed her hands inside her bright pink parka as she described her plans for the evening: “We’re gonna get hot cocoa and watch fireworks.”

Madison’s brother, Andrew, 11, ate a caramel apple from Le Cordon Bleu restaurant school, whose students invited the visitors into their classroom kitchen off Liberty Avenue.

“This is so cool,” said Dominick Horvath Jr., 9, of Turtle Creek, smiling as he rubbed his gloved hands over Richard Bubin’s hand-carved ice Santa outside Fifth Avenue Place.

“I want to come back tomorrow!” shouted Heather Brown, 10, as her parents, Jeff and Wendy Brown of Cincinnati, led their daughter back to their car.

“I don’t think we can come back tomorrow,” Wendy Brown said, explaining they live too far away. “But if you’re good, maybe we can come back next year.”

For those who can attend, today’s events begin at 10 a.m. with Pitt Pendulum, an a cappella singing group, in Market Square.


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