By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With First Night expected to attract thousands for the music, puppets, parades, and, of course, fireworks, Downtown Pittsburgh becomes a happening place.

“You’ve got a lot of people that maybe move away and they come home for the holidays, and they like to get out and about downtown,” Jason Fulvi, executive vice president of Visit Pittsburgh told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

“When you have all the new restaurants that maybe they haven’t been to lately, all the new sights, new activities, people want to come in and explore what’s happening downtown,” he said.

What’s happening has put a crunch on downtown hotels.

There was a time when Pittsburgh was really a dead zone over a holiday weekend. But Pittsburgh has become a destination city, and that means there are a whole lot of folks in Downtown Pittsburgh this weekend.

In fact, you won’t be able to find an available hotel room.

“It’s really exciting. We’ve been sold out for about 45 days now,” said Tom Martini, manager of the Westin Convention Center Hotel.

Martini says it’s a growing trend.

“Our weekends have been very busy all through the fall. Then, with First Night on top of what normally takes place in the city, there’s just a lot of excitement generated,” he said.

Martini says this holiday weekend tends to attract folks who live within two or three hours from the city.

“It’s Ohio, it’s West Virginia, it’s parts of Pennsylvania where people come in to experience what the excitement is around First Night,” Martini said.

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Besides the hotels and restaurants, transportation services will also be busy.

“There will be thousands and thousands of calls on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” says Kevin McAllister, an Uber driver.

McAllister expects a lot of slightly intoxicated folks needing a ride.

“We are here to protect them and drive them safely home,” he said.

Uber has designated pick-up spots on Liberty Avenue and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, but to attract more drivers with overtime, expect fares to go up between midnight and 3 a.m.

“This is the place to come and spend New Year’s Eve and have a good time,” adds Martini.

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