The best part about the holiday season is getting in the spirit – and there’s nothing like kicking off the holiday with a Christmas village, massive crowds, holiday lights, and musical performances.
Storefront holiday decorations of a local restaurant.
Yesterday was my first time downtown (not counting going to the bus station), and to be honest, I didn’t expect many people. The few times I had taken been there to take the Greyhound at night, I was shocked by how quiet it was after six. I could have counted the number of people within a five block radius on both hands. But when I got to the Market Square, the crowds were so big that I felt like I had been swallowed up and we had become one large moving mass.
Passing by Fifth Avenue Place from the Highmark Unity Tree to Market Square.
We arrived at the Market Square at seven, then made our way over to Penn and Stanwix Ave, just in time to see the Highmark Unity Tree being lit. Instead of being the typical Evergreen tree, the Highmark Unity Tree was a two-dimensional tree folded over on two sides of a building.
Highmark Unity Tree on Penn and Stanwix
After the tree lighting, we decided to grab dinner before going to see Andy Grammer at 8:30. We went to several different places that were either too full or reservation only, and began thinking that we would wind up eating McDonald’s or Au Bon Pain yet again when a waitress at BRGR told us to consider the food trucks lined up along Penn Ave. We had pierogies from the PGH Pierogi truck and chicken and waffles from The Coop. (Both were really good, 10/10 recommend!)
At around 8:30, we went to find the Comcast Main Stage where Andy Grammer was performing. He was in the middle of “Fine By Me” when we first heard him, and we ran all the way down, weaving through the crowds lining up for deep fried Oreos and cinnamon almonds. We found good standing positions on the curb, where we could actually see him. He’s always been one of my favorite artists, but I am one hundred percent unbiased when I say that he is even more amazing in person than on Spotify.
Andy Grammer from our view standing on the curb.
The main fireworks show started right after the performance. People lined up along the bridge with the snow lights to watch the colorful explosions. These fireworks weren’t as grand as the ones I have seen before, and instead of the usual excitement and awe, I felt a quiet serenity fall over me. Like everything else that had happened in my first semester of college, the night had gone by so quickly, filled with so many events that makes everything almost feel unreal. And as we stood on the bridge watching the fireworks fall over the Allegheny River, I realized how happy I was to be there.
View of the fireworks over the water with the glow of Light Up Night and the city along the waterfront.