PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you weren’t planning to do Christmas shopping in downtown Pittsburgh, here’s a reason to reconsider.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority announced parking will be free at its garages after 4 p.m. on Fridays and all day Saturday and Sunday.

The free parking program will begin on Friday for Duquesne Light Light Up Night and will continue through First Night, Jan. 1, 2012.

The parking authority board unanimously passed the proposal Thursday.

The motivation is simple.

“To encourage people to come downtown and enjoy the amenities downtown – the restaurants, the retail shopping through the holiday season,” David Onorato, head of the parking authority, said.

It’s been four years since the authority did the free parking program.

The free period extends through the remaining home football games for the Pitt Panthers and the Steelers.

The parking authority is looking to extend free parking to the surface lots in Shadyside and meters.

“Street meters right now are being considered by city council to be free,” Onorato said. “Right now, they’re not in the program.”

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