Category Archives: Santa! I KNOW HIM!

The Macy’s Parade will go on, but…

The global pandemic has put a pause on a lot of our traditions — for good reason.

Some events have figured out ways to go on — including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And organizers plan to take a page from the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show to help plan the parade.

“Everything is going to be different,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said, CNN reported.

So what could we see different this year?

“Some is going to be virtual. There might be some small in-person pieces, spread out pieces, it’s not going to look at all of course like how we are used to. But the important thing is, the traditions will be kept in some way,” de Blasio said.

‘Believe in the wonder’ at Macy’s windows

Macy’s in Herald Square, New York City, recently unveiled its holiday season windows.

Following the theme of “Believe in the Wonder,” the windows offer neon and chrome, and even include a a window with a dog’s nose sticking out that viewers can touch!

“We are Christmas,” said national Macy’s windows director Roya Sullivan said, WCBS Radio reported. “And it’s really how Santa is in all our hearts during the holiday season. So believe in that wonder. Believe in that giving. And that’s what we portrayed in the windows,” she said.

The windows take all year to design and build. In fact, just days after unveiling the windows in NYC, the team began thinking about Macy’s 2020 windows.

There are six windows that are available to view until Jan. 1.

Learn more about the windows here. And visit Macy’s Santaland!

Your ultimate guide to Pittsburgh area holiday events

I curated this epic list of Pittsburgh area holiday events to help guide you through the season! I did it for my actual full-time job since It’s Christmas 365 actually costs me money instead of making me money, haha.

The list has sooooo much in it. Take a look. Share with others! Reach out to me with events I missed. Or if you hit up any of these events, let me know! You might even see me there!

The Light Up Night post to make your Pittsburgh Light Up Night merry and bright

You’re going to want to bookmark, print or take notes because this is going to be one epic post to help you get through a Pittsburgh Light Up Night that’s merry and bright.

First thing’s first: Light Up Night is an amazing way to kick off the holiday season. Do not let traffic, crowds or other factors prohibit you from heading Dahntahn for the fun!

Light Up Night is my ultimate favorite night of the year in Pittsburgh. (If you want the history of Light Up Night, go here.) I miss the Kaufmann’s windows and walking around the various floors to see what’s happening. But there still is a lot to enjoy.

So… how do you have a fun and happy experience at Light Up Night?

Here’s how:

Plan ahead. You’ll want a plan for Light Up Night because there literally is so much going on that if you decide on the fly, you’ll waste more time! Read on for how to make the most of your time!

Bundle up. It’s going to be festive out, so you’ll want the scarves and gloves, hats and heavy coats for Friday night.

Be merry. It’s going to be crowded. Other people do exist.

And now, here are some ways to take it all in on Light Up Night:

The first official ceremony takes place at noon with the creche at the U.S. Steel Tower. You probably won’t be around for that, but I needed to give you the heads up if it’s something you want to see.

As for the evenings where everything else happens:

Get the most out of Light Up Night!

With so much going on at Light Up Night, it’s difficult to figure out what to check out. Here are my suggestions to help you have a great Light Up Night experience.

Everything I know about is bulleted here. But the bolded ones are my suggestions. See below the bullets for descriptions, timelines, etc.

  • 4:45 p.m. – Allegheny County Courthouse Trees and Tower Lighting
  • 5:15 p.m. – City-County Building Tree Lighting
  • 5:30 p.m. – PPG Plaza Tree Lighting and American Cancer Society Tribute of Light ceremony
  • 5:45 p.m. – One Oxford Centre Tree Lighting
  • 5:45 p.m. – Market Square’s Season of Lights Countdown
  • 6 p.m. (to 9:45 p.m.) – Celebrating the Music of Fred Rogers + appearances by Daniel Tiger (EQT Plaza – 625 Liberty Avenue)6 p.m. – The Nox Boys (Main Stage, Ft. Duquense Boulevard and Stanwix Street)
  • 6 p.m. – Beauty Slap (New Music Stage, Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street)
  • 6 p.m. (to 9 p.m.) – Santa Spectacular features the Entercom (former CBS Radio) stations helping to light the tree at Point State Park. Event includes Farkleberry Cookies, glimpse of the Mckeesport Model Train Display, food vendors, music, light show. [this event is not officially part of Light Up Night]
  • 7 p.m. – Highmark (Horne’s) Tree lighting and rooftop fireworks plus a Jumbotron show
  • 7 p.m. – Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers (Main Stage, Ft. Duquense Boulevard and Stanwix Street)
  • 7:30 p.m. – Tribe Eternal (New Music Stage, Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street)
  • 7:45 p.m. – Santa Spectacular fireworks (Point State Park) [this event is not officially part of Light Up Night]
  • 8:30 p.m. – Adam Lambert (Main Stage, Ft. Duquense Boulevard and Stanwix Street)
  • 8:30 p.m. – Krunk Movement (New Music Stage, Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street)
  • 9:30 p.m. – Fireworks Finale (Ft. Duquesne Boulevard between 6th Street and Stanwix Street)

If you’re able to kick off Light Up Night at 5 p.m., your first stop should be to the City-County Building’s tree lighting at 5:15 p.m. This tree is beautiful, the lighting is amazing and – NEW THIS YEAR – the City-County Building is home to the gingerbread display (PPG Place booted it for private rentals in the Wintergarden, boo!).

After the lighting, I’d recommend not going in to see the gingerbread displays since they’ll be there through the holiday season. You can visit them any day, so why do it when it’s co crowded!

After that, you should make your way to PPG Place to watch the American Cancer Society’s Tribute of Light ceremony. The East End Kids actually begin performing at 5 p.m., but the tree lighting usually is between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. (By the way, at 4:45 p.m., the RMU Island Sports Center Skaters will perform “Rockin’ Christmas” on the ice rink. That’s always a fun show.)

I’ll note (for full disclosure) that for several years, I helped on stage with the tree lighting and have been a long-time volunteer with the American Cancer Society.

OK, so after that, you have some time to quickly stroll the vendors at Market Square and get a quick bite to eat. There usually are food trucks at Gateway Center. I don’t recommend a sit-down place because they’ll be busy and you’ll waste time! YOU CAN EAT WHEN YOU LEAVE!

You also could stop by Steel City to see Eat’n Park’s Smiley!

So after PPG Place, make your way to Fifth Avenue Place, where there is entertainment and Mr. McFeely! Plus, it’s a great spot to warm up, look at the few stores there and maybe head to the food court upstairs for a quick bite to eat.

Then you can head outside to watch the Horne’s Tree light up. This lighting does happen pretty quickly, so make sure you’re there on time!

Afterward, head over to Point State Park for the Entercom Radio’s Santa Spectacular. It is not affiliated with Light Up Night, but still offers festive fun!

They’ve got music (obv) and a light show, plus the big tree lighting and fireworks!

The overall event typically ends around 8 p.m., which leaves you time to make your way to the Main Stage on Fort Duquesne for the Adam Lambert show.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of non-holiday music at LIGHT UP NIGHT. But, it is what it is, and it has to be part of the draw to get people to town now without the major department stores that once brought crowds.

The area for the stage gets very crowded. But there are screens set up along the road so you still can get in on the stage action.

So your best bet is to find a good spot for the fireworks, which kick off at 9:30 p.m.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the other events, like the vendors at Market Square and the gingerbread displays.

You’ll need to come back to experience the holidays even more! There are plenty of events happening at the Holiday Market at Market Square throughout the season. Plus, the City-County Building will have the gingerbread displays. There are several theater shows and concerts that are holiday-related.

There’s so much to do in Downtown Pittsburgh for the holidays. Subscribe to the It’s Christmas 365 newsletter for more holiday events and tips for enjoying them!

If you got this far and want more info, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram! And do let me know if you’re Downtown so we can say hi!

Visit, and vote for, Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights attraction

Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights event is up for USA Today’s “10 Best” theme parks with holiday events.

Go here to vote.

What makes Holiday Lights awesome? Well, let me tell you.

Kennywood Park already is a regional (and national) treasure, with its roller coasters, old rides and Potato Patch fries.

Now add the festive feeling of the holidays, twinkling lights, Santa, and you’ve hit the holiday mecca.

The park celebrates the holidays with more than 2 million (!!) lights, including a twinkling lights show synchronized to a great holiday music playlist, the state’s tallest Christmas tree and so much more!

The lagoon offers two different 10-minute holiday lights shows. Plus, area high schools and other groups perform at the Garden Stage.

As for rides, the park offers Thomas Town (including the train), Auto Race, Ghostwood Estate, Kangaroo, Merry-Go-Round, Noah’s Ark, Paratrooper, Pirate and and up to 10 Kiddieland rides. (Ride availability is weather dependent.)

The park offers two different extra add-ons for kids: Dinner with Santa and the Thomas & Friends Party Experience.

Kennywood Park is a magical place in the summer. But the holidays give it an extra special magical feeling.

There’s something amazing about eating Potato Patch fries in crisp, seasonal temperatures as thousands of lights twinkle all around.

Along with some rides and Potato Patch fries, the park offers plenty of holiday-themed fun, including a huge model train display set up inside Penny Arcade. There always are so many fun, little things to check out in the display. Look closely for animated people, and be sure to spot the tiny amusement park!

Each night, a different Pittsburgh “celebrity” reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” including Sally Wiggin and Rick Sebak. The park usually provides a calendar of readers on its site, but nothing is available as of this posting.

New this year, the park’s 4D theater will show “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The show is a condensed version of the popular holiday classic and, of course, in 4D!

Plus … the park usually offers Parker’s Dance Party and a magic show of some sort at Kennyville Stage. (Parker is Kennywood’s arrow mascot, and it’s joined by mascots from sister parks: Sandcastle’s Dunkin, Idlewild’s Ricky Raccoon and Duke from Dutch Wonderland.)

More details

Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights begins Nov. 22. It is held Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through Dec. 22 and is open nightly from Dec. 26-30.

As of this posting, admission – if purchased online in most cases below – is as follows, based on “sale” prices:

  • General admission: $19.49 (valid any night of Holiday Lights)
  • Friday or Sunday admission: $18.49
  • Holiday Lights season pass: $28 (valid for unlimited visits to Kennywood Park during the 2019 Holiday Lights season)
  • Select Passholder Nights: Free! Active season passholders receive free admission on select Holiday Lights dates. Kennywood’s site indicates that 2019/2020 Silver, Premium, Ride & Slide, and Senior passholders can show their pass at the main gate for complimentary admission on Nov. 22, 24, 29; and Dec. 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, as well as 26-30.
  • 412 Food Rescue: $14.99 with personal care item: Kennywood is partnering with 412 Food Rescue to collect personal care items (such as oral care products, diapers and feminine hygiene products, soap, deodorant and toilet paper). These items will be distributed to 412 Food Rescue’s clients. Kennywood guests who donate a personal care item when they visit between Nov. 22 and Dec. 8 receive a coupon for $6 off admission on up to four tickets.

Have ‘A Very Merry Pittsburgh’ with Heinz History Center’s holiday exhibit

Pittsburghers love traditions – especially during the Steelers season and the holiday season.

And, as the years go by, the beginnings of holiday traditions that made Pittsburgh’s once-vibrant Downtown shopping district shine are nothing but a memory.

Horne’s, Kaufmann’s, Gimbels all had extravagant holiday season traditions: windows, tree lightings, amazing interior decorating, Santa.

While those landmarks and many of the events are gone, the memories will live on through a very special exhibit at the Heinz History Center: “A Very Merry Pittsburgh.”

It’s the second year for the unique display (it first appeared in 2017).

The display, which opens Nov. 16, features:

  • The original Santa’s chair from Kaufmann’s Santaland, the giant mailbox where Pittsburgh area children used to mail wish lists to Santa
  • Holiday window display items and other memorable objects from Kaufmann’s, Horne’s and Macy’s
  • An interactive retro toy display showcasing toys from several generations
  • Gifts and toys dating to the 1840s, which show the evolution of gift-giving for the holidays

And, of course, Santa! The History Center welcomes Santa on select days and times.

I visited this exhibit during its premiere year in 2017 and took my mother, who fondly recalled so many toys and items from Kaufmann’s and Horne’s. I loved getting a chance to see old window display pieces up close and to learn more about those pieces.

This is a must-see exhibit for any Pittsburgher!

More details:

A Very Merry Pittsburgh opens Nov. 16 and continues through Jan. 5. The exhibit is included as part of a regular admission ticket to the Heinz History Center.

Santa will be at the History Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following days: Nov. 16, 17, 23, 24, 29; and Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24.

The History Center is located at 1212 Smallman St. in the Strip District. You’ll want to block off several hours to visit the History Center because of all of the wonderful exhibits, including pieces from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and the massive Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, and so much more! Or, just get a membership and return multiple times throughout the year!

Get event listings and more holiday fun in the It’s Christmas 365 newsletter!