It was 18 degrees and we were standing outside on a rooftop deck in the middle of downtown. If we were crazy then so were the other 50,000 people out that night who came down to see all the lights, trees, decorations, concerts and fireworks that together created the holiday spectacle that is Light Up Night in Pittsburgh.
My coworker had invited Jim and me to come celebrate with her on the rooftop deck of her dad’s office building, which was located right on the edge of Market Square, where all the action was. She said there’d be beer and snacks, so how could I refuse?
I’ve lived in Pittsburgh my whole life and yet I’ve never ventured downtown to see what all the fuss is about. Mostly what I’ve heard is that it’s crowded and to do anything or eat anything or see anything you have to wait in a long line or else push through crowds of people. I’ve heard parking is a nightmare and it’s just a crazy experience.
I’ve also heard it’s a lot of fun and that it’s something special to witness this city-wide celebration of the holidays, right before all the gift-giving stress begins, when you’re just ready to start thinking about strings of lights and mugs of hot chocolate.
I figured that observing the festivities from above would be a good way to ease into the craziness, and then perhaps we’ll give the Market Square crowds a try next year.
Jim and I enjoyed ourselves at the party, sipping mulled wine and spiked hot apple cider and munching on red velvet cupcakes. The heat lamps kept us from freezing and the company kept us entertained.
But what I loved most was just the feeling of being part of something. The whole city came together to spread holiday cheer and have a good time, and there I was in the middle of it. The lights were left on in the city’s office buildings, and the Christmas trees were lit up, and music was echoing down the streets. It felt like a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel.
Around 9:30 p.m., the fireworks started. We couldn’t see them very well from our little rooftop deck, but what we could see looked beautiful, as fireworks always are. However, our unfortunate positioning meant that I couldn’t get any fantastic photos, but I tried my best to lean out over the waist-high brick wall, which was all that was stopping me from a 10-story drop.
By then our toes were numb and our fingers were frozen and we were ready to go home and warm up. We walked the mile back to my car with hundreds of other people who were heading home from the festivities or leaving the Pens game. Luckily, since my car was near my office and far away from the downtown chaos, the drive home was actually bearable.
Of course, the day after, the weather started to warm up, and it hasn’t been nearly that cold since. I’m hoping that next year when we go again, we’ll be over this whole “polar vortex” business and we’ll have some normal temperatures for November so we can enjoy it a bit more.
Then again, nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like warm woolen mittens and frosted windowpanes.