PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the eyes of a child, this night is about Santa, glittering trees, and fireballs.

But Light Up Night and the Santa Spectacular mean something completely different to a grown-up mayor.

“It’s very important, not just this day, but this weekend,” says Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. “Last year, we had over 800,000 visitors. The economic impact was $20 million, especially for small business and retailers that depend on events like this in the holiday season.”

That’s a lot of cha-ching mixed in with the jingle jangle of holiday festivities.

Joe Hladiuk manages the downtown Macy’s store.

“Everyone comes downtown and it’s really our time to shine,” he says. “It’s our tradition with the window unveiling. So, we find it to be our second most important day right behind Black Friday because it kicks off the holiday season.”

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup says the holiday kickoff “reminds people of what’s downtown. If you haven’t been downtown in the last couple of years, you don’t know what’s here. I’ve been in Pittsburgh for a year and a half, and there have been 20 new restaurants that have opened since I’ve been here.”

And Waldrup says the attractions go beyond restaurants and stores.

“We have the great cultural icon, PPG Rink, that people forget about and the Cultural Trust has all these great activities occurring during the holiday season,” he says.

Pittsburgh shines so well on its holiday kickoff that Visit Pittsburgh brought in 17 event and convention planners to see the city during the festivities in hopes of landing conventions in the future.

Visit Pittsburgh’s Craig Davis says, “These things will come to fruition within a couple of years and they do represent millions of potential dollars.”

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