Squared Deals

Around here, we're always ready for a good contest. Especially when it involves a match up against our friendly rivals in Cleveland. Which is why Mayor Luke Ravenstahl stepped up to the podium in Market Square at lunchtime on Tuesday to accept a unique challenge. Here's the wager - Pittsburgh will buy more pink ribbon bagels from local Panera Bread stores than our counterparts in Cleveland. And it's all for an important cause, as it raises awareness about the all too real risk of younger women getting breast cancer.

With former Steelers nose tackle Chris Hoke at his side, Mayor Ravenstahl dared the city by the lake to out buy and out eat the City of Champions — all in good humor and good taste, of course. Though the bet is light-hearted, the results are down-to-earth serious - the triumphant city will earn an extra $10,000 in donations from Panera.  This money will help more young women understand, assess and combat the risks of breast cancer. The contest runs from October 1st-31st, in support of the Young Women's Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. In the long run, no matter which city comes out on top, everyone is a winner as Panera goes pink. And that's a call not even an NFL replacement ref can botch.

This weekend, the Art Resource Teaching Society will creatively host Art Squared in Market Square, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m. each day. More than 40 local photographers, chefs, musicians, writers and other creative types will be on hand to help everyone unleash their artistic potential though various hands-on activities and lessons. Plus, super model hopefuls can learn how to strut their stuff on the cat walk while laughter specialists will do their best to tickle funny bones of all in attendance. You can even learn how to make your own knightly chain-mail armor, if slaying dragons is in your plans. Budding Frank Lloyd Wrights can enter architectural competitions as emerging entrepreneurs design their own business cards and marketing materials. With the entire Downtown as your canvas, you can unleash your creativity in a thousand ways during Art Squared. Best of all, festival proceeds will help support arts programs in Pittsburgh's public schools.

Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in nearly 45,000 Americans every year. This coming Sunday, September 30th, people with pancreatic cancer and their families, along with those who lost loved ones to the the disease will gather in the Square at 7:00 p.m. for a the Purple Light National Vigil for Hope as a reminder that much more work needs to be done to fight this serious illness. As part of the National Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, this candlelight tribute will illuminate the need for ongoing research and treatment improvements that will lead to a cure. You can add your light to the fight and keep the flame burning bright for those suffering from this disease.


"Skip Your Lunch" and Start Your Weekend Off on 'the Right Foot!'

Yes, it's true - every day, youngsters in and around the Pittsburgh area go to bed with empty stomachs and wake up without enough to eat. The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank along with One Young World's Wake Up Call USA Group, are teaming up to help feed local kids for the "Skip Your Lunch, Feed A Child" campaign. You can do your part by stopping by the lobby of 2 PPG Place to donate your "lunch money" which will provide healthy, nutritious food to hungry children in our community.

 Originally scheduled in Market Square, this Tuesday's event, which has been moved due to inclement weather, is asking everyone to make a small sacrifice for a really big cause — fighting hunger among local kids. Now, you really don't have to skip lunch, but every $10 in donations will help put food on the table, or in lunch bags, for at least 20 hungry kids throughout Western Pennsylvania. Across the country, one in six children live in homes where adults have a hard time keeping the kitchen pantry filled. Closer to home, each month the Food Bank helps feed 40,000 kids, with possibly even three times more youngsters in need. If you do actually skip lunch, your stomach might be a little empty, but your heart will be filled with the satisfaction that somewhere in our region, a child will enjoy a good meal.  If you still need to satisfy that lunchtime craving, walk over to Market Square to visit any of the quick and easy eateries. If for whatever reason you just can't get out of the office today, it's easy to make a donation online too.

Come this Friday evening, they might not be dancing in the streets, but plenty of people will be kicking up their heels in the Square to start "National Ballroom Dance Week" off on the right foot. To get everyone in the swing of things, 20 young talents from the Fairmont State University Ballroom Dance Club will entertain the T.G.I.F. crowd, starting at 6pm. After that, a "flash mob" of local ballroom dancers will fill the Square to dance the night away — and there's even more dancing if you head over to the Backstage Cabaret in Theater Square during the always hot, hot, hot Salsa Fridays.

So whether you like to Foxtrot, Tango, Cha-cha or Rumba, this is one dance party you won't want to miss.


Get Smart and Volunteer in the Square

We'll never forget  the images that stunned our nation and the rest of the world on the morning of September 11, 2001. Eleven years later, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh will muster a volunteer force of post-9/11 Navy vets and Pitt ROTC students in Market Square from 2 - 6 pm on Tuesday. The group plans to assemble 200 care packages that will volunteers like you will send to U.S. troops overseas with letters of appreciation to the City's very own first responders.

The event, one of four throughout the area, will honor the thousands of Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001 and pay tribute to the tens of thousands of American soldiers, sailors and marines who volunteered to serve and protect their fellow citizens on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other activities throughout the City include painting homes of military families, sprucing up a transition shelter for homeless vets, and passing out backpacks loaded with school supplies for children with parents in the military. A fitting salute, indeed, to everyone who went above and beyond the call of duty during and after the attack of 9/11.

Speaking of volunteers, we're getting pumped up about another group of people looking to give something back to the place they call home. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership will partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) and PNC to sponsor a Volunteer Happy Hour this Tuesday after a  beautification project in Market Square. Interested volunteers are asked to meet in Market Square at 5:30pm to help clean up one of the City's most attractive parks. All of the participants are invited to head over to the Fairmont Pittsburgh immediately following the renovation for $2 drink specials and complementary appetizers at the hotel's hip lounge, Andys Wine Bar. Always a great networking source, PUMP brings together a diverse blend of young professionals looking to create an even more vibrant and attractive Downtown and City overall.

Market Square visitors can increase their IQs during the second annual fall  Continuing Education Association of Pennsylvania Education Fair on Wednesday from 10am - 2pm. CEA/PA counselors will be on hand to help everyone from current students to people already in the workforce get smart about which schools, programs, or degrees best suit them. Find out how to be the head of the class by getting educated grants, scholarships and other financial aid for continuing your education.

Finally, Steeler and Panther season is back so remember to head over to the Square for all of your favorite restaurants before or after heading over to Heinz Field to catch some football. Remember that you can park Downtown by using the ParkPGH mobile application, or hop on the T for FREE transit to the North Shore from any of Downtown's four stations. Now that's a guaranteed win-win!


A Salute in the Square

These days we call them "The Greatest Generation." But if you ask most World War II veterans to describe themselves, most likely they'll tell you they were ordinary G.I. Joes just doing their duty in service to their country. Well, during this week's Market Square Farmers Market, from 10am - 2pm, a special fundraising committee will visit the Square to raise awareness and money for the much-anticipated and long overdue Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial on the North Shore to honor all local veterans who served in Europe, Asia and everywhere else during the war.

The urgency in completing the memorial is that WW II vets are a vanishing breed. Of the 16 million who served in the war, fewer than 1.5 million are alive today — and their average age of these heroes is fast approaching 90. But their ranks are thinning rapidly as nearly 750 former soldiers, sailors and marines die each day. The need to create a lasting testament to their bravery is more important and urgent than ever before.

While the memorial will be a solemn tribute to local WWII vets, the activities in the Square will be a festive occasion. Traveling along musical memory lane, the River City Swing Band will perform nostalgic hits of the era such as "Moonlight Serenade" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," from 12 noon - 2pm. As the band plays, two nimble-footed swing dancers from the Downtown Arthur Murray Dance School will entertain the crowd with routines that symbolized the Big Band Era. And visitors to the Square can show their true red, white and blue colors by getting a photo taken with a "living statue" similar to the figures set for the proposed memorial. So rally ’round the flag for this fitting salute the heroes of World War II.