PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Light Up Night and the Santa Spectacular combine for one of downtown Pittsburgh’s biggest family nights of the year.
“We want this to be a family event and we don’t want any trouble,” says Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.
To that end, and in the wake of recent downtown incidents of violence, Hissrich says the planning for Friday night has been extensive: “You will see increased lights for Light Up Night compared to the Fourth of July, almost tripling the amount of light towers around the city.”
Pittsburgh Public Safety is gearing up to deploy a “significant police presence” during Light Up Night festivities this Friday.
Large crowds are expected in downtown Pittsburgh on Nov. 22 as the city’s Light Up Night celebration unofficially kicks off the holiday season in the city.
“We will have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who chooses not to be law-abiding,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said in a press release. “That means no disorderly conduct, no fighting, no public intoxication or underage drinking, and no type of violence will be tolerated.”
Not only will there be a significant Pittsburgh police presence, but other law enforcement agencies like the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Allegheny County Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Port Authority Police and park rangers will also be present.
WATCH: KDKA’s Amy Wadas reports on the increased police presence for Light Up Night.
There will be Mounted Units as well as River Rescue crews on scene. Public Safety says it will use SkyWatch to get an aerial view on crowds.
The number of police you will see with be extensive but Hissrich adds, “What you won’t see is behind the scenes. We will of course have officers in high vantage points, we’ll have the state police helicopter up and a lot of intelligence gathered, using our security cameras throughout the city (which) will be fully operational as well.”
The goal is to create a family-friendly safe environment. Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup says he likes the planning.
“You know, we’ve been talking to the police since last year just about ways that we can enhance security,” he says.
“This event overall has been a very safe community-driven environment and we’re sure of that this year. The police will be out talking to folks and making that we all remain safe but it’s a great time to get downtown and kick off the holiday season.”
Waldrup says the night is important for the holiday atmosphere of the region and for downtown businesses.
“Downtown Pittsburgh has changed a lot in 59 years. We don’t have the big box stores but we do have 140 small business downtown that are here 365 days a year and this is an opportunity for them to show off what they have.”
There will also be many road closures in place, and Public Safety asks motorists for patience.
This year’s Light Up Night headliner on the Comcast Main Stage on Fort Duquesne Boulevard is singer and American Idol alum Adam Lambert, who was most recently in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena with Queen.