Archive for November, 2008

Enjoying the glow: Pittsburgh Light Up Night 2008

Posted by

We (Rachel, Abby, and I) went to Pittsburgh’s Light up Night festivities on Friday night. Due to our schedules, we knew we wouldn’t be able to make it in time for the actual tree lighting that was happening around 6:00 PM, but we decided we’d like to go see the tree and ice rink at PPG Place, and look in the store windows like little kids, and watch the fireworks at 9:00 PM.

We had a quick dinner of mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken nuggets at home, then headed to the T stop to ride downtown. This was Abby’s first ride on the T, and before we left, to make it easy for her to understand, we asked her if she’d like to go ride the train. Of course, she responded with an emphatic “Yes! Yeah!”

Knowing how cold it was outside (about 15 to 20 degrees, depending on your thermometer and exact location,) and with wind to boot, we all bundled up with multiple layers, including “long johns” or thermal underwear, another warm layer over that, two pairs of socks, winter coats, gloves (mittens for Abby) and hats or earmuffs (those newer, less-conspicuous ones, not the Princess Leia poofy ones) and insulated winter boots. “I can’t put my arms down!” (if you don’t know that movie quote, look it up on your favorite search engine.) But, we knew we would stay warm. Then, we headed out.

A train pulled away just as we arrived at the stop, but I figured there would be another one soon, since it was light up night. Yep, about ten minutes, there it was! One the way to the stop, a guy stopped us and gave us his transfers to use, saying that he just bought them but that his party couldn’t go now, because his girlfriend just got sick. We graciously thanked him for them, wishing them well. Yep, they covered our fare into town! That’s one of the things I love about Pittsburgh. It really is true: the people are nice. They just give things away. Granted, he couldn’t use them, so it wasn’t a great sacrifice on his part, but none-the-less, it was a great gesture of kindness in my opinion.

Abby loved the ride, looking out the window, often saying “uh oh” when the T stopped. 🙂 We assured her, every time, that it would go again in a minute, that we just had to stop and let some people get off and on the train. Fortunately, Port Authority (1, 2) was running double cars all night, so it wasn’t too crowded of a ride into town until we hit Station Square, then a bunch of people hopped on to get downtown.

Once downtown (getting off at Wood St.), we walked through Market Square, enjoying the music and vendors there, and headed to check out the tree. On the way to PPG Place, we saw “gingerbread” houses in the storefront windows (made out of graham crackers…) And then we got to the ice rink and tree. It was wonderful! Lots of people skating, even more looking on from the side like us, and the beautiful, huge, tree in the center of the rink. I snapped a few pictures and we talked with one nice gentleman for a few minutes.

Both the storefront windows and this ice rink & tree transported me back in time. I was at peace, watching families and friends skating and having fun, with my family, and the Christmas spirit descending upon me. I felt like a kid again, like when my family used to ride around on Christmas Eve to see all everyone’s decorations, including trees, lit up houses, churches, and luminaria. Except, this time, it was an even deeper set of emotions. I had my wife and daughter with me, and we were enjoying it together. My family.

After a few minutes, we moved on to get out of others’ way, and look into some other storefronts. We ended up not going too far before heading inside (it was *cold*) to 2 PPG Place. We looked at some of the decorations there and then headed to Crazy Mocha for a couple of hot drinks. Mmmm. We also got a Biscotti. The wait for the coffee took a while, though; there were tons of people with the same idea. That’s ok, though, because it allowed us to warm up, and Abby to run around a bit. (We brought her big stroller, and had a blanker over her in it while we were outside.)

We got out of Crazy Mocha about 8:53 PM, just in time to quickly move with the throngs of other people towards Point State Park to watch the fireworks (supposedly starting at 9:00 PM!) The fireworks started just as we got to a great spot to watch them on a sidewalk. They were great! Zambelli and Pittsburgh really know how to do fireworks! Abby loved them, though the wind was blowing directly into our faces, and she did start getting cold towards the end of them. I was crouching down with her (she was back in her stroller) and at one point she just turned into me and snuggled into my shoulder to block the wind and get a little warmer. She still said she was enjoying the show, though!

After the fireworks, we headed to Steel Plaza, knowing that tons of people would be trying to get on the T at Gateway Center station, and even lots at Wood St. We got on it heading “inbound” – this way we got a seat. A few trains came by heading outbound…you couldn’t fit another person on them! We knew we made the right decision. Once we got to Station Square, people flooded off of the T, though; Rachel guessed they were probably going clubbing now that the fireworks were over. I agree.

It was a pleasant ride back, since it wasn’t too terribly crowded. Abby once again had fun, this time talking with us more. I have to say, she was an angel the entire night. She was in a great mood, and behaved very well every step of the way.

Abby went right to bed when we got home, and I got on the computer to check out if any of my friends had been there, and to blog about the experience, but my blog was misbehaving so it had to wait until today.

All in all, it was a great night as a family, and a great experience! We plan to do it again; every year that we can.