A Year to Remember

Okay, you have to excuse us if we want to hold on to 2011 for a little bit longer. After all, this past year marks the first full 12 months of the wonderfully transformed Market Square and it's new, inviting open piazza makeover.  And what an amazing 365 days it's been. From the opening of new restaurants and businesses to another electrifying, two-day Light Up Night to open a spectacular holiday shopping season, the Square really is at the heart of Downtown's newest renaissance. So as the final moments of 2011's 525,600 minutes tick away, let's take a look at just a few of the Square's more memorable happenings of the year.

The fun kicked off early in the year when more than 1,300 Black & Gold faithful huddled in the Square for the DIGIORNO'S "Go Pittsburgh" High Five Challenge. This early February competition pitted Pittsburgh fans against their cheesehead counterparts in Green Bay in a show of support for their favorite football teams before the big game. Though the Steelers came up short on the gridiron, their fans nabbed the pep rally championship during this showdown.

Just to prove that we are plenty willing to put our stomachs where our mouths are, hundreds of red-hots lovers turned out in late June for the local finals of the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. As the competition chomped through scores of dogs, a pair of wiener winners emerged to represent the region in the grand finale at New York City's Coney Island on Independence Day. Juliet Lee, our local winner got second place in the finals with 29.5 dogs, beaten only by Sonya "the Black Widow" Thomas.

Most days, business casual is the typical fashion statement in the Square. But when a bevy of local models dressed to the nines and strutted their stuff on the catwalk during Pittsburgh Fashion Week's runway romp, the Square earned the title of Style Central. As the  hundreds of people who watched the tented show in the center of the Square will attest,  Pittsburgh Fashion Week — in just its second year — established itself as one of the premier events on the city's social and cultural calendar.

Speaking of stylish, Design Squared opened the doors on home decor trends as interior design professionals gathered in the Square for this primer on the latest trends in kitchen, bath and overall renovation and decorating. Sponsored by local businesses—including the Square's very own SPLASH! and PPG Paints—Design Squared offered free cooking demonstrations from the chefs at NOLA and continuing education credit courses for aspiring and working design pros. Not to mention the live music and gorgeous design items that could be installed in your very own home.

Normally, the Square is a fairly lively place. But every year around Halloween thousands of the walking dead stumble into our favorite spot for a day of spine-chilling, blood-curdling fun during ZombieFest. With costumes and makeup that's just might scare to death the faint of heart, these unborn again creatures fill the Square as part of a daylong fright festival that also benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

With something happening nearly every day in the Square, we just have to mention these favorites such as the Farmers Market, the Carnegie Library's Tuesday Reading Room, Bike to Work breakfasts, the Salvation Army's Most Amazing Race, flash mobs of all sorts, YMCA exercise programs, the Vintage Grand Prix auto show, free concerts sponsored by the Market Square Merchants Association, scavenger hunts and much, much more. In fact, the nearly 50 officially permitted events scheduled during 2011 in the Square are almost twice the amount of permitted events that took place there in 2008— the last full year before the makeover. With 2012 adding an extra day to the calendar, we're not taking a great leap in saying that we'll find 527,040 ways to measure life in the Square next year.

By the way, if you're still looking for that perfect place to bid farewell to 2011, you can check out the options in the Square by clicking here.

1 comment:

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