PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Downtown Pittsburgh officially kicked of the holiday season Friday night with both Light Up Night and the Santa Spectacular.

Thousands crowded into the Golden Triangle for an evening that ended with two fireworks displays.

“I think it’s a really great Pittsburgh tradition,” said on person. “It’s a wonderful time to come out and just see everybody in Pittsburgh and just experience it.”

At the Santa Spectacular in Point State Park, Santa threw a fireball that triggered the lighting of the tree at the Point.

The 54th Annual Light Up Night consisted of musical groups performing at stages across Downtown. As well as the opening of a European-style market in Market Square.

“It’s a great opportunity to give access to the Holiday Market,” said Jeremy Waldrup, of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “Enjoy some great food, some great music and get some early Christmas shopping completed.”

There were also horse-drawn carriage rides, and the unveiling of Macy’s holiday windows.

The lights were also turned on at the Highmark Unity Tree, which many Pittsburghers remember as the old Horne’s Department Store tree.

From KDKA’s helicopter, Newschopper 2, you could a birds-eye view of the glimmering lights of Downtown skyscrapers.

“It is so beautiful,” said another person in attendance. “I wish everyone could come down and participate.”

The events don’t just bring people Downtown, but also money.

Some small businesses say it’s the busiest night of the year for them.

“We have many small businesses that tell us Light Up Night is busiest night of the year for them,” said Waldrup. “The restaurants are going to be hopping, people are going to be enjoying themselves, and it’s a great opportunity to remind folks of the small retail opportunities we have here. They all bring out the Christmas lights and put their best foot forward in hopes of having a great holiday season.”

And, of course, Santa was there, too.

“I love to come to Pittsburgh the most,” said Santa Claus. “Pittsburgh is the only city that starts decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween. Ho Ho Ho!”

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David Highfield