PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh welcomed in the holiday season Friday night with the annual and much-loved Light Up Night celebration Downtown.

But things were a little different this year, and not just because of the warmer temperatures and the recent closure of the Macy’s department store. There was also increased security after what happened in Paris a week ago.

Not only were there more officers visible, there was also security you couldn’t see.

“For every officer you see in uniform, there’s a least a security personnel person involved in some capacity that you don’t see,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.

The warm weather also meant a big crowd. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership estimates there were more than 500,000 between Light Up Night and the Santa Spectacular.

Even though Macy’s is gone, some of the holiday windows there continued.

And while the ice wasn’t solid enough for people to skate on the PPG Ice Rink because of the warm weather lately, it’s hoped that will change soon.

The mayor says Light Up Night is truly a Pittsburgh tradition.

“Even as the Downtown changes, you hold on to these things that are part of your culture, part of who you are, part of the DNA of Pittsburgh.”

Thousands packed Downtown, and at some points, streets were so packed, it was hard to get through.

There were five stages involved in the Light Up Night festivities with all sorts of music.

Plus, the Santa Spectacular was held once again in Point State Park.

Singers, including Vanessa Campagna, started performing on the stage in Point State Park at 5 p.m. Then, at 5:30 p.m., the People’s Gas Holiday Market opened, and Santa was there to light up the tree in Market Square.

Over on the Clemente Bridge, music began at 6 p.m., and the concerts continued through the evening with local girl who is about to hit it big, Daya, and pop star JoJo.

The lighting of the Highmark Unity Tree on the old Horne’s Building and the rooftop fireworks happened at 7 p.m.

And to close the night, what else, fireworks. The BNY Mellon fireworks finale were shot off from the Warhol Bridge just after 9:30 p.m.

As soon as the fireworks ended though, traffic troubles were expected to begin. The Parkway East is closing tonight so the deconstruction of the Greenfield Bridge can begin, and the detour is rough and could ruin the holiday spirit of the night.

 

Meanwhile, the PPG Place Ice Rink is scheduled to reopen for Saturday’s 1 p.m. Mascot Skate.

Check the Light Up Night website for a full schedule with more details: http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/holidays

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David Highfield