Celebrating the Holidays….with a BANG!

This past weekend, Justin and I had the chance to go to Light Up Night in downtown Pittsburgh. People have been talking it up to us, and we were really excited to get to see what it was all about! We joined the hundreds of thousands of people flocking towards the center of the city to see the fireworks displays and the Christmas decor.

We started out in Market Square, where they had live music and they’ve already started constructing Santa’s house (where he’ll be taking lots of pictures come December, I’m sure). Justin snapped a picture of me in front of their Christmas tree:

They’ve also created an outdoor skating rink in Market Square! I am really excited about this. We didn’t go skating during Light Up Night because the crowds were ridiculous, but you’d better believe we’ll be back during an upcoming weekend!

From there we went to visit Macy’s, which had officially unveiled their Christmas window display about an hour before we arrived. Apparently, the Macy’s in downtown Pittsburgh is a very big deal. They had some dancers from the Nutcracker putting on a show for the children in the children’s clothing department (we didn’t get to see that), and they even put on their own miniature Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year! The different scenes depicted in each window display were pretty impressive, especially since they were animated. My favorite one showed a little boy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on an old black and white television (it was a real, working TV), and one of the character balloons was literally coming out of the screen:

After Macy’s we got out the GPS on my phone and had it direct us toward the Andy Warhol bridge, where there would be a fireworks show later. We were so absorbed in looking at the map and going the right direction, that we didn’t realize what was happening until the last moment. We heard a large commotion, like hundreds of people all angrily shouting at once, and we turned around and saw a WAVE of people running toward us like a stampede. We had no idea what they were running from (or running toward?) but our instinct was to start running as well. We heard a police whistle sounding repeatedly, and we turned around to look and saw the the crowd had fortunately turned down a side alley, where a cop was trying to break things up. We saw later on the news that there had been some sort of a fight. We were just glad that we didn’t get caught in it!

We eventually made our way to the bridge and found a good place to sit and wait for the fireworks to start. I got a little nervous that there was too much weight on the bridge, with people crowded onto it shoulder to shoulder, but Justin (the engineer!!) assured me that people weighed a lot less than the cars that were usually driving on it. We struck up a conversation with a family that was sitting next to us on the bridge, also waiting for the fireworks to begin, and as soon as they heard that we were new to Pittsburgh, they regaled us with all kinds of historical facts and trivia proving the indisputable fact that Pittsburgh is the greatest city in America. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being amazed at just how much native Pittsburghers love their city! Here are a few pictures from the bridge:

A nice view of PNC Park, where the Pirates play

The only picture taken of the two of us all night came out BLURRY! A new camera is on our Black Friday list…

Fireworks!

The following night, I got together with some of my new girl friends from church and we went to see the last installment of Breaking Dawn! After that, we went downtown to enjoy the rest of the Light Up Night events. We arrived a little bit too late for the holiday parade, but we were still able to enjoy some live music in Market Square. We ate dinner at Primanti Brothers, a Pittsburgh favorite, and we (except for Chelsea) ordered the Pittsburgher–which is basically a burger topped with french fries and coleslaw in Italian Bread:

Me, Chelsea, and Teljer–we are all new to Pittsburgh!

My opinion on the sandwich? It was just okay. Shhhh….don’t tell the other Pittsburghers! Not enjoying a Primanti sandwich is sacrilege, right up there with not rooting for the Steelers.

We also stumbled upon a display of Santas Around the World in a building downtown near the ice skating rink. It was cool reading all about the legends of Santas from different cultures, and I even saw that China has their own version of Santa (who knew?).

This exhibit also hosted HUNDREDS of entries from a gingerbread house contest. They were all really impressive! I’ll have to get in on that next year!

We ended the night by listening to some live music in Market Square. The band was doing a lot of 80’s cover songs, and everyone was having a great time! There were some cute little toddlers who were all bundled up and dancing around to the music. However, as soon as the band wrapped up for the night and started breaking down the stage, the night took a less family-friendly turn.

A very crowded Market Square, with Santa’s workshop in the background

People were starting to scatter and walk back to where ever they were parked, and the band was packing away their instruments when we heard a gunshot. It took us all several long seconds to fully realize what it was. My first reaction was to look toward the sky, thinking there were more fireworks. Then we heard people screaming. Not angry screaming, like they were the previous night, but shrieking  in fear. Again, we saw a wave of people from a nearby street come running through the square in one large mass, just like a scene from a movie. It was a little bit chaotic for a few minutes. Teljer grabbed my arm and started hauling me away at top speed, and I was turning around looking for Chelsea, who was standing in place staring wide-eyed at all of the pandemonium going on around her. I saw a woman holding a little girl on her hip and frantically yelling to her husband, “Grab Sammy! Grab Sammy and meet me at the car!!” We heard a siren and saw a police car swerving around the corner, coming straight towards us and the Square. We all cleared out of its way, jumping onto either sidewalk, and felt a little calmer (calm enough to stop running), knowing that authorities were on the scene.

We made our way back to the car pretty quickly, and as we drove out of downtown, we excitedly rehashed what we heard and what we saw right after the gunshot. Chelsea couldn’t believe her non-reaction…she was just shocked that everything was really happening. It looked just like a scene out of a movie! We saw later on the news that a woman was shot in Market Square, but she’s alive and she’ll make a full recovery. They’re still looking for the person who fired the gun. What was a fun night of holiday festivities certainly ended with a bang! We’ll have to be really careful next time we hang out in downtown Pittsburgh at night.

 

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