Bright Lights, Big City

It's almost time for Downtown's biggest and brightest party of the year — the one-time only, two-day and two-night megawatt-palooza 50th anniversary celebration of Light Up Night, powered by the good people of Duquesne Light. Starting tomorrow at 4 p.m.,  the fun, food and festivities start in Market Square and on the Roberto Clemente Bridge with musical performances by Donnie Iris and the Cruisers, Etta Cox and Al Dowe, No Bad Ju Ju, The Stickers, Johnny Angel and the Halos, the young talents of CAPA and other Pittsburgh favorites. By time the old clock in the Square strikes 6, every avenue in the city will be an Electric Avenue. 

And since everyone knows that Downtown is the Center of the Season, the Square will be the heartbeat for so many holiday happenings during Light Up Night. An almost-instant tradition since its glowing inaugural run in 1960, Light Up Night will shine even brighter in 2010 with so many exciting new attractions that promise to perennial crowd pleasers from the start.

Now we're not playing favorites, but we don't have to check our list twice to predict that the most dazzling attractions for years to come will be the absolutely awesome Market Square Season of Lights display. Designed by Blachere Illuminations — they're the bright ones who lit up the Eiffel Tower and DisneyWorld's Cinderella Castle — the Market Square Season of Lights combines decorations on buildings and lamp posts in the Square with a towering 33-foot tall "sphere tree" lit by over 27,000 LED bulbs. From Light Up Night and into next January, the Market Square Season of Lights will delight visitors to the Square with synchronized eight-minute shows every half hour set to everyone's favorite holiday tunes. Be sure to be there when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Jolly Old St. Nick — with help from our generous friends at the Colcom Foundation — flip the on switch to illuminate this electrifying Light Up Night rookie of the year.

While they might not be little toy soldiers, student musicians from five area high schools will keep in step during the Highmark Light Up Night March as they parade through the city to the Square, just in time for the Seasons of Light debut. Of course, the Unity Tree will blaze at the corner of Fifth and Stanwix, and weary walkers can catch a free ride on the horse-drawn carriage trips that start at Oxford Center. And the first half of Light Up Night will end with a sky-high display of pyrotechnics of fireworks from the world-renowned Zambelli Internationale.

Okay, that's just part one of the 50th Anniversary Light Up Night fun. On day two, the activities start early in the day when everyone's favorite beagle glides across the ice as Snoopy laces up his skates to celebrate his 60th birthday — that's 420 in dog years — at the PPG rink. The Square will continue to rock all day long with the tuneful stylings of Jim Jimerson and Airborne, Joe Negri and Vanessa Campagna and other talented performers.

The weekend of fun keeps on rolling along with the city's first-ever Duquesne Light Horse-Drawn Candlelight Carriage Parade with over 20 carriages and more than 150 majestic steeds hoofing their way through Downtown's wonderfully bedecked streets. From Cinderella's pumpkin carriage to antique fire trucks, this will be one parade to remember. You'll even see the famous Wells Fargo Stagecoach, a fixture in parades across America since 1958 — that's two years before Light Up Night was a twinkle in the eyes of Jacques Kahn, the legendary Pittsburgh ad man and civic booster who masterminded the city's favorite holiday tradition.

Finally, Santa and Mrs. Claus will celebrate the season with a super stage show in the Square that will fill even the biggest Grinch with the Spirit of Christmas. After the 25-minute song and dance revue, the Big Guy and his Missus will do the honors as Lynn Smith and James Bell tie the holiday knot in a special Light Up Nuptials ceremony, sponsored by 96.9 BOB FM. To make sure you don't miss a minute of the fun this weekend, check out the Light Up Night schedules for Friday and Saturday. And get ready to get your glow on!

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