2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Come back on New Year’s Day for a roundup of some of our most popular posts from the past. Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Christmas safety

By this time of the year, most halls have already been decked, but for those who haven’t gotten around to trimming their tree, here are some safety tips.

  • Know what kind of tree you’re allowed to have. If you’re living in a rental, chances are your landlord doesn’t allow real trees. Real trees are a much more serious fire hazard, so make sure you follow your landlord’s rules.

    Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
    Don’t let me eat the Christmas lights!
  • Decorate the tree evenly. If your decorations are concentrated too densely on one side of the tree, the extra weight could cause your tree to topple, so distribute weight as evenly as possible.
  • Keep decorations away from heat sources. Make sure no tinsel is touching radiators and that nothing is dangling into the fireplace.
  • Use only indoor lights indoors. Christmas lights are designed to for use either indoors or outdoors, so if you want to string lights inside your home, make sure they’re designed for indoor use.
  • Also, use only outdoor lights outdoors. Just like indoor lights are designed for safe use indoors, make sure the lights you use to decorate the outside of your home are designed for outdoor use.
  • Secure decorations so they can’t be torn down or damaged by children or pets. The safest way to do this is to place or hang them well out of reach.
  • When in doubt, don’t put it up. If you’re not sure it’s safe, don’t use the decoration. This is especially important with regard to fire hazards and child safety.

Fun things to do in Pittsburgh this holiday

It’s that time of year again where families come to town to celebrate the holidays, the kids are home on winter break, and everyone needs to get out of the house and do something fun. Here are some ideas for things that’ll get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Winter fun in Pittsburgh
We might not have snow on the ground yet, but the holiday season is in full swing here in Pittsburgh.

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights is in full swing, with millions of lights decorating the park. The park is open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Though it will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the park will be open the following Saturday and Sunday. The 4-D Theater in the park is showing The Polar Express: A 4-D Experience, there’s a petting zoo in Kiddie Land featuring all the usual critters plus two camels, and a few kid-friendly rides are open. Tickets are still available for Dinner with Santa on the 19th and 20th of December at 4 p.m. The most affordable park admission tickets are on sale at participating Giant Eagle stores.

If you’re looking for a less traditional version of the ubiquitous photo with Santa, visit the National Aviary  on any Saturday from now until Christmas for a pic with the big guy and his penguin helpers. Parents can enjoy a night without the kids while the kids enjoy a night with Fleury the Snowy Owl at the Aviary from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on December 19th. Plus, the seasonal show Wings in Winter is playing through January 3rd.

The People’s Gas Holiday Market is back at Market Square downtown. It’s the place to go for unique gifts, and it’s open through December 23rd, perfect for last-minute shoppers. The market opens at 11 a.m. daily, but closing hours vary. Santa is in the house starting at noon daily. Plus, enjoy the BNY Mellon Season of Lights show every half hour after sundown. One of the best parts of the Market is the food: haluski, sausages, and hot beverages. It’s free to walk around the market, and it’s close to the Gateway T stop so no driving downtown required.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show and Light Garden offers fun for all ages. The Light Garden is open 5 p.m.-11 p.m. and includes candlelit walkways and live music. For the kids, Santa visits between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, plus on December 21st through the 23rd. Pictures with Santa are free with admission to Phipps. Phipps has some cool post-Christmas events coming up as well, so be sure to ask about them when you visit.

Now that winter is here, the penguins of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium are going on parade again at 11:30 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday. There are also winter camps, a New Year’s Eve event, and other exciting things happening, so keep an eye on their website for news and events for all ages.