Let's Go Pens! Let's Go Pens! Let's Go Pens!

No matter the weather, it was a great day for hockey fans in Market Square. Because that's where hundreds of Pens supporters flocked at noon today to cheer on Sid the Kid and the rest of the lads before they take on the Wash Caps in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field on New Year's Day. With  longtime play-by-play announcer Mike Lange handling MC duties, with help from broadcast buddy Phil Bourque and WDVE's Val Porter, this pep rally was more fun than a playoff series sweep against the Philly Flyers.

Of course, showing your support for the Pens before the big game was reason enough to be in the Square. But one lucky fan took home a pair of tickets to the game during a text message contest. Sometimes it pays to be all thumbs, especially when you get to pocket the hottest tix in town for the coolest winter event in the ’Burgh.

And there were more prize giveaways than slapshots in an OT shootout. For winter sports enthusiasts, the free lift tickets will keep some lucky downhill types schussing along the sweetest slopes around — or sipping hot chocolate in the lodge — all day long. And the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious passes to the opening night performance of Disney's "Mary Poppins" at the Benedum went down easier than spoonful of sugar. 

Now, if you didn't score tix for the Pens/Caps faceoff, we hope you got your hands on the First Night  admission buttons that the friendly folks from the Cultural Trust. These festive fashion accessories are your ticket to enjoy many of the amazing performances that will push 2010 into the history books and usher in 2011 with a big bang of two separate fireworks displays. Even if you managed to skate a few laps around the rink outside Heinz Field, some lucky fans got free passes to show their ice skills at the county's rinks in North and South Parks. And so many people went home with a Great Race Gift Bags, filled with goodies like a Dick's Sporting gift card, that we lost count. 

It's not really a party in the Square until the band plays. And there was music galore on stage with local legends Jimmy Adler and Norm Nardini, who's going to open for New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi at the Consol Energy Center in February. Budding musicians also strutted their stuff, too, as the Riverview marching band entertained and cheerleaders from Brashear, Gateway and Riverview high schools pumped up the crowd noise and enthusiasm. 
For an event this big, more than a few dignitaries were on hand, including chief county exec Dan Onorato and Pens mascot Iceburgh.  But the biggest VIPs were all the generous people who donated canned goods and money to help keep the the shelves full at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. That's the real spirit of the holiday season.

And just because we can't say it enough...
Let's go Pens! Let's go Pens! Let's go Pens!


Ring In The New Year In The Square

Now we know that there's going to be plenty of action all over Downtown this New Year's Eve during the First Night festivities. But we'll be singing a few verses of "Auld Lang Syne" in the middle of Market Square as we count down the final seconds of 2010. After all, we certainly don't want to forget that this was one great year for the "new" Square.

Okay, so while you're out and about around town with friends and family, why not use the Square as a meeting place throughout the evening? The eateries around the Square are great spots to refuel with a beverage or two and consume some tasty calories to keep your engines running in high gear all night long.  If you're looking for more than a quick bite, a little birdie told us that Bella Sera Urban Trattoria has a couple tables left for their special New Year's Eve seatings.

And while there will be plenty of sky-high pyrotechnic displays as fireworks brighten the night to start and end the New Year's festivities, the brilliant Market Square Season of Lights, made possible by Colcom Foundation, will light the final hours of 2010 in Market Square.

So as we get ready to close the book on 2010, the past 365 days have been great ones in the Square — from the revolution in the way it looks and feels, to the return of the Farmers Market, to Zombies, a summer wedding and the spectacular two-day 50th anniversary celebration of Light Up Night. With plenty of old acquaintances to remember from the year that's almost history, we look forward to making many new friends and creating more exciting reasons to enjoy the Square in 2011.

Happy New Year!


Get A Square Deal On Last-Minute Holiday Gifts

Okay, you won't find a partridge in a pear tree in Market Square. But plenty of holiday shoppers are flocking to the shops in — and around — the Square for last-minutes gifts for colleagues at work or unexpected guests who drop by in the next week or so.

Of course, we're hoping for a bit of snow this holiday season. Still, the cooler temps can bring on a big chill in a hurry. Well, there's no better way to warm up a long winter's night than a basket of tea or coffee from Nicholas Brothers. If the boss is still on the gift list, this is one great perk.

Now, while some might like to sip, others on your list might like to nibble on something sweet throughout the holiday season. Just in case you're all thumbs in the kitchen, a batch of yuletide cookies or other goodies from Prantl's will satisfy most tastes.

You won't wear out any shoe leather for the next stop on this holiday shopping expedition. But if a certain gent in your life happens to be in need of new footwear, the Nettleton Shop is the place to find a sole mate for your soul mate.

For a complete head-to-toe look for that GQ type of man, the Heinz Healy's Gentleman's Apparel store is well suited to dress the fashionable male in nearly any sartorial style. From sportswear to more formal attire, this dapper depot is a must stop destination.

Guys, if you're still thinking about a new vacuum sweeper for that "lucky" woman in your life, take our advice. Head to Serendipity. Chock full of the latest, chicest accessories this side of New York and Los Angeles, a gift from this oh-so-hip boutique will put you at the top of her list as the New Year nears.

And for a very special touch, a gift certificate from Denham & Co. is a perfect stocking stuffer. For that post-holiday makeover, this cozy salon offers a bird's eye view of the Square and a to die for menu of services that range from a new ’do to facials, manicures and pedicures. Plus, Denham carries a complete line of Aveda lotions and potions to revitalize hair, skin and the inner beauty within.

Okay, all this deadline shopping can be stressful. So if you're looking to treat yourself, try a soothing massage at Zhang's. A combination of options from head and neck massage to an overall rubdown can help relax those aching shopping muscles and restore your good cheer — just in time to enjoy the glad tidings of this very special time of the year. 

While activities in the Square might be on the light side this weekend, the Season of Lights display will continue to shine. And the Square will be hockey central next week during a special Dec. 30 noon rally for the New Year's Day Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field.


The Weather Outside Is Frightful, But The Band Is Soooo Delightful!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he just happened to make an early stop Downtown for the first-ever WDVE Holiday Party in Market Square this past Thursday night. Just for this momentous occasion, Jolly Old St. Nick traded in his traditional red and white garb for more appropriate Black and Gold threads to rock the night away with local music legends like head Houserocker Joe Grushecky and Donnie Iris, the coolest king of rock of all. 

With morning show hosts Jim Krenn and Randy Baumann chilling at the mic as the evening's MCs, the crowd warmed up as the musicians made merry on stage with their special twists on classic holiday tunes. While we didn't spot Rudolph in the skies above, thousands of fans with rosy red noses and cheeks in the streets filled the Square with holiday spirit to spare. 

Of course, many of the pre-holiday revelers sought a bit or warmth in the watering holes around the Square. But all through this tune-filled night, no one was ready to turn in for a long winter's nap. This is one party that rocked from start to finish.

Last Night's performers:
Chris Higby
28 North
Paul Luc
Sara Marince
Margo B
Gene The Werewolf
Scott Blasey
Good Brother Earl
Joe Grushecky
Donnie Iris
Rick Witkowski & The DVE All-Star Band

If you missed the live show or this morning's broadcast, you can download the performances on WDVE's website.  Just scroll down until you see the Christmas Party entries.
If you're wondering when the next big thing in the Square is going to happen, put a big circle around December 30. That's when hockey fans are invited to a huge noon pep rally to cheer on the Pens before they take on the Washington Caps during the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day.


Who Says Pittsburghers Stay Inside When It's Cold?

Seriously, it's not even officially winter. But this deep freeze certainly is putting the "BRRR" in "the ’Burgh." So that's why we're inviting you to drop by Market Square, where things are always heating up with some of the hottest events in town.

For instance, this Thursday evening the madcap comic geniuses of the WDVE Morning Show — Jim Krenn and Randy Baumann and assorted sidekicks — take to the Stage in the Square to host the station's annual Holiday Party that is guaranteed to rock the block with some of the town's favorite music legends like King Cool Donnie Iris, who partied on the Clemente Bridge during Light Up Night, and one of Bruce Springsteen's best friends Joe Grushecky of the Iron City Houserockers.

Now one of the coolest events to lace up skates in these parts is the New Year's Day NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic. Of course the Pens and Caps won't be bangin' the boards in the Square. But Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh and our pals at ’DVE will be hosting a huge pep rally in the Square very soon. So check back here later for more info on when you can show your support for the Pens before they take to the ice on January 1 at Heinz Field.

One of the best ways to really enjoy the spirit of the season is one of the quietest, most relaxing and even the most romantic. The normal holiday carriage rides run through this Saturday but we've added carraige rides on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, 4 - 8 p.m. This little trip down memory lane is a great way to rediscover the city and all its holidays splendor as you take in the sights and sounds of our very own winter wonderland. Come celebrate the New Year in style.  For the full ride schedule, just click here.

If you're looking for that hard-to-find holiday gift for that special hard-to-please person, the shops in the Square might just might be best-kept Secret Santa shopping spot anywhere in the city. From the chic boutique at Serendipity to the sophisticated shoes at the Nettleton Shop, the Square is a shopper's paradise. And, when your budget and feet are just about exhausted, the Square is a great place to grab a bite to eat, a thirst-quenching beverage or just a moment's or two rest. So whatever the season — or the temperature — the Square is one of the best reasons to discover what's happening Downtown.


Diamonds Are A Square's Best Friend

Oh, there will be sparkle plenty early next year when the street lamps on Market Street sport a bit of bling, thanks to artist Carin Mincemoyer. With a playful turn on the Square's original name — The Diamond — Carin got the idea to design "diamond" studded accessories to dress up the lighting that leads the way to Downtown's favorite gathering place and historic crossroads.

With all the improvements on Fifth Avenue and in Market Square it just makes sense that the street connecting them should shine as bright.  The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership reached out to the Office of Public Art (a public-private partnership between the City of Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council) to solve the problem.  When the city's Office of Public Art sounded the call for high-watt ideas for a way to connect the Square with the Cultural District and First Side, Carin flipped on her creativity switch to come up with this brilliant plan. Carin worked hard to win the project.  A jury of property owners and art professionals sorted through all the qualifications from local and national applicants and Carin came to the top.  Just take a look at some of the past work highlighted on her website, including a temporary sculpture that was at the Children's Museum on the North Side - a dreamy cloud mobile made up of recycled plastic bottles, electronics parts and other stuff that people throw out. 

Just in case you never get a chance to see the Hope Diamond up close and personal, we're giving you a big time sneak peek at the Market Square's "Diamond, Diamonds" right here. Much of Mincemoyer's work investigates the space where nature and man-made products intersect.  This project references the history of the Square but also juxtaposes the diamond in its natural state versus man-made shape.  Individual 8" cut diamonds made of plexiglass and lit with LEDs will be suspended in the chemical shape of a diamond molecule.  The cluster will be mounted on the two poles in the middle of Market Street and it will appear as if the diamonds have encrusted the top of the lamp post.  When the poles light at night, the street light will add it's glow to the LEDs and they will have the effect of a halo around the central light glowing within.  When the project's complete this spring, clusters of gems will shimmer and shine every evening, drawing pedestrians back and forth along that magical pathway that links the Allegheny River to the banks of the Mon.

Of course, we're glowing that Carin got the nod for this project. But in addition to Carin's work, this project could not have gotten anywhere without the Office of Public Art, lighting consultant Hal Hilbish and the members of the committee.  They were plugged in from start to finish on this electrifying project.

So, remember to keep your chin up in the months ahead to keep track of an illuminating idea that we think is, well, just brilliant.


A Chile Reception

Oh, it's getting hot, hot, hot in Market Square even during this early pre-winter big chill. That's because the Square's newest eatery — Chipotle Mexican Grill —  officially opens it doors today and says "Hola!" to lovers of south of the border comfort food during a much anticipated mucho Grande Opening. Just in case you needed another reason to visit the Square, a stop at Chipotle is a plenty tasty one. With a healthy culinary southwestern accent, the gourmet tacos, burritos, salsas, chips and dips will leave a smile on your face as wide as the Rio Grande.

Now, if you think that Chipotle is just another fast food place, we're going to set the record straight. In it's quest for serving healthy fare for all, Chipotle is on a mission to dish out "food with integrity." On one hand that means Chipotle serves only chicken, beef and pork raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. Which means, the sour cream on your taco and the cheese in your burrito bowl were produced from milk from cows that are rBGH-free. And that's true of all the meats on the menu.  Of course, Chipotle is a national franchise. But in every part of the country where it operates a restaurant, the company buys as much produceas it can in season from local, family owned farms. In fact, up to a third of the beans served at Chipotle are organically grown. The focus is always on fresh in this food chain.

We're sure that the lines will be out the doors for the next few days, especially during lunch. But not to worry, the Chipotle in the Square will be open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. So hasta la vista, amigos. We're off to Chipotle.



A Winter Wonderland

It's beginning to look a lot like...well, you know what time of year. Especially now that the holiday season is officially here. And while we hope that all Downtown merchants enjoyed a very, very Black Friday last week, we want you to know that every day and night in and around Market Square is going to be a very, very bright throughout the holiday season. Now that a few snowflakes are falling, it's the perfect time to visit the Square to get into the Spirit of the Season.

If you just happened to be one of the couple of hundred thousand or so people who passed through the Square during the two-day 50th Anniversary Celebration of Light Up Night, then you were probably dazzled by the towering, sprawling luminary display of the magnificent Market Square Season of Lights, the brilliant LED light creation from Blachere Illuminations. Through early January, the Market Square Season of Lights — sponsored by the Colcom Foundation — will delight holiday revelers with musically synchronized eight-minute shows every half hour. In it's first few days of brightening the City, the Market Square Season of Lights is already a brilliant crowd favorite.

Now, we know that Downtown offers the finest shopping experience around, with first-class retailers such as Larrimor's, Macy's, the shops at Fifth Avenue Place, Oxford Centre and Saks — just to name a few. But did you know that the Square hosts high-end fare at the Nettleton Shoe Shop, Heinz Healy's clothing for gentlemen and the oh so chic Serendipity Accessories? And just in case, you venture outside the Square on your shopping expedition around town, you can rest your feet as your travel in style — for FREE — on the Holly Trolley shuttle service, with a stop conveniently located by Heinz Healy's, at the entrance to Market Square. This is one sweet ride thanks to Fifth Avenue Place, located adjacent to Market Square.

If you prefer a more leisurely mode of sight-seeing, then hop on the free horse-drawn carriage rides that are sponsored by the Shoppes at Oxford Centre.  From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. you can sign up for a ride time at One Oxford Center and spend the interval roaming the shops in your quest to find that special something for everyone your holiday gift list. Saturday evenings, Market Square hosts free carriage rides from 4 - 8 p.m. There will also be free rides on Friday Dec. 31 and Saturday Jan. 1 from 4 - 8 p.m. for First Night and the Winter Classic. With a driver at your service, a carriage ride around the city is a return to a bygone era of elegance.

Maybe you're looking for a way to work off a few calories from that big Turkey Day dinner. Then glide on over to the Rink at PPG Place for a leisurely skate around the ice. Not only is the rink a the perfect spot for a brisk bit of exercise, it's also the ideal location for a romantic moment during this most wonderful time of the year. And in case you didn't already know this, the PPG ice is actually bigger than the renowned rink at New York City's Rockefeller Plaza. So take that Big Apple.

If you're looking for a nearby watering hole to catch a bite to eat or quench your thirst, the Square offers many fine eating and drinking establishments around the Square, like The Original Oyster House (a hometown favorite for 140 years), the cozy Bella Sera, Primanti Brothers, Moe's Southwest Grill and the new Chipotle location, which opens next week.

Okay, we're only stopping here because we're on our way to the Square to get our holiday season off to a holly, jolly good start.  See you there!