PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Crews are hard at work making the final preparations for Highmark First Night Pittsburgh.

If you are planning on heading to town for the festivities, there are some things you need to know.

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This year’s theme is Pittsburgh: The Next 200 Years.

The key will be getting here early.

There will be events and performances for all ages from 6 p.m. until Midnight.

“We’ve got comedy. Both arcade comedy on Liberty Avenue and up at CAPA Auditorium, and the comedians up there were put together by the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival so you know they’re really funny,” Director of Festival Management for First Night Pittsburgh/Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Sarah Aziz said.

That will be reflected in the FedEx Ground parade that will start at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center at 8 p.m.

There will also be fireworks at both ends of the evening, beginning with the Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks Show at 6 p.m. on the Highmark stage. The festivities conclude with a Zambelli finale after the raising of the 1,000-pound Pittsburgh ball at Penn Avenue Place.

This is the 10th year the Future of Pittsburgh ball will be rising, to welcome in a new year. Unlike other cities, this ball rises, as Pittsburgh is a city on the rise.

“They wanted to come up with a focal point, something for people to get excited about.. So with Highmark’s support, this beautiful ball was created,” Aziz said.

Early Friday morning, crews tested the ball to make sure it’s ready for the New Year’s Eve show. Just as expected, the ball slowly made its way up the 74-foot pole. On New Year’s Eve, it will gradually rise as the clock nears midnight.

“We always time it, we always make sure the wire is in the right place and configured right so there are no hangups come time for the change of the year,” Aziz said.

If you do come to town, bring an appetite because a lot of the Downtown restaurants will be open.

“A lot of the restaurants are definitely going to be open for the festivities. Many of them do a select menu, or specialty menu for the holiday just because they know that the volume of people coming through is going to be very high,” Visit Pittsburgh’s Jason Fulvi said.

In addition to all of this, there will be plenty of musical performances as well.

“We have vouchers. You get a $10 button which will get you into all of the events throughout the evening. You can pick up your button either online or at Giant Eagle and save $1,” Aziz said.

If you like art, all of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s galleries will have extended hours.

If you plan on staying downtown, it might be tough if you haven’t booked a room already, especially with the Penguins playing Saturday night and the Steelers on Sunday.  The Westin Convention Center Hotel has been sold out for about 45 days now.

As for security, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said there will be extra efforts this year.

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“We saw what happened overseas, we’re going to use dump trucks with sand, that’s the way we’re going to do the barricades,” he said.

A Tunisian man who plowed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin this month killed 12 people and injured 56 others. His attack followed a more deadly assault in Nice, France, in July that left 86 people dead when a man drove a 20-ton refrigerated truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.

County police officers will be on horseback, police will be observing the public from high rise buildings. A number of uniformed officers will be on the streets but they’re only the first line of defense.

“We will have zero-tolerance, no second chances. If you are coming to town to created problems you will be arrested or cited,” Hissrich said.

Now, the big concern for many people will be getting around town due to the road closures.

Here’s the full list from the Department of Public Safety:

No parking will be enforced after 3 p.m. on Dec. 31 on Wood Street from 6th Street to Liberty Avenue. Street closures will be as follows:

10 a.m. Dec. 31 – 2 a.m. Jan. 1

  • Stanwix Street from Liberty to Penn avenues: 10 a.m. Dec. 31 – 2 a.m. Jan. 1

12 p.m. Dec. 31 – 2 a.m. Jan. 1

  • Penn Ave. from 10th to 6th streets. Vehicles for Marriott Courtyard Valet parking at 945 Penn Ave. will be allowed through the closure at 10th and Penn.
  • Penn Ave. from Sixth to Stanwix street – 6th will remain open crossing over Penn
  • Stanwix in both directions between Liberty Ave. and Ft. Duquesne Blvd. Vehicles will be allowed through Ft. Duquesne closure only to access parking garage at 625 Stanwix St.
  • 7th St. from Liberty and Ft. Duquesne. Vehicles will be allowed through Ft. Duquesne closure to access parking garage only.
  • 8th St./Tito Way from Liberty to Ft. Duquesne. Vehicles will be allowed through Ft. Duquesne closure to access parking garage only.
  • 9th St. from Liberty Ave to Ft Duquesne. Vehicles will be allowed through Ft Duquesne closure to access parking lots only.
  • 5th Ave from Liberty to Penn. Vehicles will be allowed through Liberty closure to access Fifth Avenue Place garage only.

Aziz tells the “KDKA Morning News” there will be 45 venues open in the Cultural District from The August Wilson center to Fifth Avenue Place.

“Ninety percent of the activities will be indoors or heated so you don’t have to worry, regardless of what the weather is like,” says Aziz.

Aziz adds the one activity people will need to be outside for is to see the Highmark Future of Pittsburgh Ball rise.

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