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50-Foot Rabbit Balloon Highlights Return Of In-Person First Night Celebration

By: KDKA-TV Senior Web Producer Heather Lang

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Highmark First Night is returning to Pittsburgh's Cultural District in a big way with the Future of Pittsburgh ball, fireworks and even a giant bunny.

WATCH: KDKA's Erika Stanish reports

After going virtual due to the pandemic, the New Year's Eve celebration is bringing back in-person events to ring in 2022. The family-friendly festival will be spread throughout a 14-block radius in the Cultural District downtown.

It's highlighted by gigantic white rabbits. The "Intrude" exhibit by Australian artist Amanda Parer, with an environmental theme, will be located in the lot behind the Water Cube at 8th and Penn Avenue.

"She's 50-feet tall, 50-feet wide," Sarah Aziz, of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, said. "For a point of reference, that's about five and a half stories, so a little bit taller than our Cultural District offices. It's significant."

intrude-exhibit-giant-rabbit-first-night
(Source: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust)

Three baby rabbits are also part of the art exhibit. They are 12 feet tall and will be set up in the Trust Oasis on 7th Street.

"They will debut on First Night," Aziz said. "The thing I love most about these guys is they wake up and they go to bed everyday. You can come and see the bunnies wake up every day and then they go to bed every night. And they will be here all through January."

Adults and kids will be allowed to interact with the bunnies, too.

Learn more about the "Intrude" exhibit and its artist by clicking here.

Other fan favorites are returning -- including four outdoor stages and public art installations, visual arts galleries, select indoor performances, the New Year's Eve Parade featuring Studio Capezzuti puppets, Fire and Ice Plaza, as well as the Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network sponsored Family Tent.

WATCH: KDKA's Royce Jones reports

As is tradition, the night kicks off with the children's New Year's Eve celebration. The Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks is set for 6 p.m. at the Dollar Bank Stage.

The celebration builds to the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale at 11:58 p.m. when the ball will rise atop the old Hornes building and fireworks will usher in 2022.

The four outdoor stages include the Highmark Stage where The Byron Nash Trio will play us into the New Year, the Dollar Bank Stage where the Williams Sing-Off Winner will be announced, the Eighth Street Stage which is the hub of Fire and Ice, and the Heinz Hall Courtyard Stage featuring the River City Brasstacular.

For the full events schedule, click here.

In addition, on the KDKA-TV First Night special, Pittsburgh natives Joe Manganiello and Wiz Khalifa will be making special appearances via video, along with singer, actor and performer Marie Osmond.

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