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Pittsburgh Rings In 2011

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thousands of people packed the Cultural District in downtown Pittsburgh to ring in 2011.

First Night was a family-oriented event with more than 150 activities happening throughout the evening.

The night started with fireworks.

“I thought it was very pretty because all the colors and all the explosions and I think that is very cool,” Bryce Chisholm, 10, said.

Unlike previous years, the weather was very warm, and that helped draw the masses.

“All the people are staying downtown. Every hotel is booked and they’re all looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve,” Kathy Heinemann said.

Meantime, the band headlining this year’s celebration was Tower of Power, an internationally-acclaimed R&B soul and funk band from Oakland, Calif.

“For us, it’s original soul music written in the style of the 60’s and 70’s soul music like Motown, James Brown, various Chicago soul music,” Emilio Castillo, a band member, said.

The 10-member band still has five of its original members. They have recorded more than 20 albums and are more popular now than ever before.

They’re thrilled to be in Pittsburgh.

“We’re just happy that it’s not cold, because if it was cold, we’d be miserable,” Larry Braggs, a band member, said.

It was definitely hot for some of the performers at First Night. Steel Town Fire, Pittsburgh’s premier fire troupe, uses batons, chains and rings of fire to perform exotic tricks.

The crowd was impressed.

“I think they’re fantastic and I’d love to see my daughter do it some day,” John Donoghue, of Mt. Lebanon, said.

“I feel fine about that,” his daughter said.

By midnight, hundreds crowded Penn Avenue near Stanwix Street to watch the ball rise to welcome 2011.

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