PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh's holiday season kicked off with thousands of revelers, even more Christmas lights, top performing artists and delightfully mild temperatures.
The festivities began with tree-lighting ceremonies all over Downtown, including the Allegheny County Courthouse, One Oxford Centre and the corner of Penn and Stanwix, where the Horne's Christmas Tree has been lit since 1953.
Comcast Light Up Night 2017 brought in packed crowds from the skating rink at PPG Place to the main concert stage at the end of the Rachel Carson Bridge. Pop star Andy Grammer headlined the music acts. But there were plenty of food trucks and activities for Pittsburghers of all ages.
"Even if we miss the lighting up ceremony, we still walk around with the kids, see the lights and everything. They really enjoy it," said Jamie Rozzo, of Houston, Pa., who was enjoying Light Up Night with her husband and kids: 7-year-old Adrianna (hint for Santa, she wants a mermaid tail for Christmas) and 3-year-old Braden.
Light Up Night brought the largest police presence ever for a Downtown festival, according to Pittsburgh Public Safety, including several hundred officers, State Police helicopters, and dump trucks filled with sand to protect against cars driving into pedestrians.
Additions for 2017 include extra light towers and four new surveillance cameras (plus upgrades to the 35 existing Downtown cameras).
"We've been, the last two years I've been here, evaluating how we can do things better," Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. "We're learning from issues that we've found before and how to improve."
The Peoples Gas Holiday Market opened for business in Market Square. For the sixth year, vendors will set up shop each day in the style of the traditional German Christkindlmarkts ("Christmas Market"), offering unique gifts through Dec. 23. Visitors can also get a photo with Santa Claus for a $5 suggested donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Light Up Night also marks the opening night for skating at The MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place. The rink is scheduled to be open through Feb. 25. Admission is $8 for adults 13-49; $7 for children under 13, seniors age 50 or older and military members (with ID). Skate rental is an additional $4 per pair.
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