2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Not too shabby for our first full year of blogging. Here’s to further success in 2015!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Heading downtown for First Night? Here’s what you need to know about public transportation

Last week we told you all about Highmark First Night and how to plan your visit. Now it’s time to talk about your transportation options on the big night. Because it’s New Year’s Eve on Wednesday, we’re posting early this week to give you all the info you need for attending the festivities in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

Pittsburgh First Night
Pittsburgh’s First Night celebration features not one, but two fireworks displays, plus so much more.

First of all, it’s a good idea to take public transportation into the city, as parking will be hard to find and many streets will be closed for the celebration. But be warned: lots of people will be using public transportation, so plan to leave early and weigh your options toward the end of the night: head home early to beat the crowd, or stay for the fireworks at midnight and join the crush. Either way, you’re better off than those who decided to drive. They had to pay an arm and a leg for parking and are still facing the same timing dilemma.

In any case, take note that the Port Authority is running special hours for New Year’s Eve, and the usual holiday hours for New Year’s Day. Plus, kids under 12 accompanied by an adult wearing a First Night button ride for free starting at 4 p.m. If you don’t have a ConnectCard already, consider getting one for each member of the household and loading it up with a value or a pass. The cards are easier and faster than providing correct change. You can get cards at most Giant Eagle stores around Pittsburgh.

Be sure to use the Port Authority trip planner to schedule your ride so you know when to arrive at the stop.

It’s a good idea to check the weather before you head out as well. It’s been an unseasonably warm winter in the area, but it looks like it’s getting colder just in time for New Year’s. Bundle up in layers before you head out for the night, and bring cash for hot beverages.

Don’t live close to public transportation? Consider moving to a Prudential Realty Community like Alvern Gardens, Place Seville, or Sleepy Hollow in 2015.

First Night in Pittsburgh: something for everyone

Young and old are sure to love a trip to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District for First Night. With tons of indoor and outdoor events book-ended by fireworks, Steel City will celebrate the slide from 2014 into 2015 with non-stop fun.

With so much to do, it’s important to plan ahead.For starters, if you’re planning on going, buy your buttons ahead of time for $8 instead of $10 at the door. Your buttons give you access to all the festivities, so you don’t want to forget that detail.

Got your buttons? Great! Now it’s time to check out the schedule of events from visual art to music and dance and even crafts workshops. There are 18 visual art exhibits, all of them open 6 p.m.-11 p.m. so leave time to check those out between attending shows.

Happy anniversary!
Pittsburgh’s First Night celebration features not one, but two fireworks displays, plus so much more.

Can’t decide what shows to attend? River City Brass really is “a blast.” Last year’s show included singing, dancing, silly costumes, and audience participation in a rendition of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”. Their only show this year is at 7 p.m., so add that to your agenda first, and then consider the acts offering multiple showings throughout the night, like Cello Fury and Texture Contemporary Ballet or Arcade Comedy Theater. Want to squeeze in a third show? Consider any one of the 3 featured magicians, they all have 10 p.m. shows. Once you’ve decided which show to attend, you need to reserve seat vouchers. If they’re all gone for the show you really wanted to see, don’t fret, there’s still plenty of other stuff to do.

As you walk around the Cultural District, definitely stop by Steel Town Fire & Ice Creations in the Fire & Ice Plaza. Last year, half of the stage was devoted to fire dancing/eating while on the other half, an ice sculpture of a motorcycle was carved. With a chainsaw.

Curious about the year to come? Get a palm and angel card reading between 6:30 and 10:30 at Urban Pathways Charter School. But be warned, the line last year was very long.

If you have little ones that need to be in bed well before midnight, be sure to arrive on time for the opening children’s fireworks display at 6 p.m. so they don’t have to miss out on the pyrotechnics.

On top of all these shows and sights to see, there are also interactive activities for all ages. There’s giant jenga, chess, and checkers, a pinball lounge, and a kazoo making workshop hosted by Carnegie Science Center. Plus, don’t forget about face painting, caricatures, balloon animals, and meeting the local sports mascots.

Finally: Do you love ice skating? The Massmutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place will be open 11 a.m.-midnight.

As always with big events like this, it’s best to take public transportation into the city instead of giving yourself a headache trying to find parking. Wood Street, the “T” stop in the heart of the Cultural District will be bustling all night, so consider heading into the city early and be prepared for a crush at the end of the celebration.

Allegheny County Port Authority holiday schedule

Check out the latest news from Allegheny County Port Authority.

Buses, the “T,” Pittsburgh’s light rail system, and the inclines will run on their regular weekday schedule on Christmas Eve, but they will run on a holiday schedule on Christmas Day.

Happy holidays in Pittsburgh! Here are some festive events to attend

It might be getting colder, but there is still plenty to do in Pittsburgh over the holiday season.

Tomorrow is your last chance to skate with Santa at the Massmutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place. The rink will be open 11 a.m. to midnight.

Holiday Events in Pittsburgh
Sure, Steel City is cold this time of year, but there’s still plenty to do!

As long as you’re downtown, consider visiting the downtown library for a free origami workshop. Art of Origami: Holiday Edition takes place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

This is the last weekend for two musical shows in the Cultural District. Highmark Holiday Pops is at Heinz Hall and features the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Choir, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. This weekend’s narrator is Rick Sebak. A Musical Christmas Carol is playing at the Byham Theater. With three showings tomorrow and two on Sunday, you’re sure to find find a time that works for you.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square is open through 8 p.m. on the 23rd, so there’s still time to get some last minute shopping in. The little stalls sell Christmas decor from around the world, jewelry, and various crafts. There’s even a food stand that sells hot beverages and both sweet and savory fare. Plus, the kids can visit Santa and marvel at the pretty holiday lights and thirty-foot tree.

To save money and spare yourself the hassle of trying to find parking, take public transportation into the city. Wood Street Station is a major bus and “T” hub at the heart of the Cultural District, and Gateway is just one block from Market Square and PPG Place.

Happy Thanksgiving! Here are some things to do with family while they’re in town

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and the Pittsburgh area is gearing up for Christmas. If you have family visiting, here are some things to do and sites to see.

Holiday

If your family is coming to town early, consider taking them to Light Up Night tonight.

Holiday Events in Pittsburgh
Sure, Steel City is cold this time of year, but there’s still plenty to do!

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market opens in Market Square at 11 a.m. today and runs through Tuesday, December 23. Take your family to eat delicious foods from around the world, enjoy local entertainment, and buy extra special gifts. Adults will appreciate the cultural diversity and kids will be excited to meet Santa! Pictures with Santa are free if you give a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

This weekend is the Castle Shannon VFD Ladies Auxiliary Holiday Craft Show. Parking and admission are free, and the show is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. If you’re looking for a personal, handmade gift, you’ll probably find it at one of the 120+ tables in the CSVFD Memorial Hall and Fireman’s Hall.

The Castle Shannon Library is hosting Be Thankful Story Time at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 25. The reading is for kids ages 4-10 and requires registration.

Film

This weekend is the last weekend of the Three Rivers Film Festival, held at various theaters throughout the city. The last films of the festival are all playing at the Harris Theatre. Actress is playing at 7 p.m. tonight, followed by What Now? Remind Me at 9 p.m. Tomorrow, The King and the Mockingbird plays at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Theater

The Contemporary Choreographers show at Point Park University, performed by their Conservatory Dance Company, is in its last weekend. The show through November 23. Their next show—and the last for 2014—is the ballet Romeo and Juliet. It runs December 5-14.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is also in its last weekend at the Benedum Center. Tonight’s performance starts at 8 p.m. an there are matinee and evening shows through Sunday.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Studios is hosting The Nutcracker Holiday Party this Sunday, November 23. from noon to 3 p.m. There will be dance classes, holiday crafts, and performances from the show.

Disney’s Newsies is playing November 25-30 at the Benedum center.

If you’re looking for a musical performance of a totally different nature, the Misfits are playing the Altar Bar on Saturday, November 29. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Museums

The Warhol has a couple of special exhibits on display right now. Chuck Connelly: My America will be on the 4th floor until January 4. 13 Most Wanted Men: Andy Warhol and the 1964 World’s Fair is on display on the 2nd floor, also until January 4.

If you have a history buff in the family, take them to the Senator John Heinz History Center to check out Pittsburgh’s Lost Steamboat: Treasures of the Arabia. The exhibit is on display until January 4.

All of these events are conveniently located for residents of several Prudential Realty Communities in the South Hills. Downtown locations are easily accessible via the “T”.

4th of July events in the Pittsburgh area

There are several events happening in Pittsburgh in honor of Independence Day, so here are some options as you plan for the U.S.’s birthday

4th of July Fireworks
Pittsburgh has some of the best 4th of July Celebrations around.

The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta is taking place July 2-4 in Point State Park. This is a free event full of all kinds of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. The latest addition: Pogopalooza. The proper Independence Day celebration kicks off at 1 p.m. on the 4th, ending with fireworks at 9:35 p.m. Tenants of Alvern Gardens Apartments, Place Seville, as well as the Sleepy Hollow Townhouses and Apartments can hop on the T (Pittsburgh’s light rail) for a 30 minute ride to the Gateway stop, a short walk from Point State Park.

The Heinz Field Fourth of July Celebration is also a free event packed with concerts. This one starts at 2 p.m. and will give you a prime view of the fireworks in the evening.

History buffs might consider attending Fourth at the Fort hosted by the Fort Pitt Museum. This event is free with museum admission and takes place 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on the 4th. There will be reenactments of the Revolutionary War experience at the Fort, and they will salute the Point State Park fireworks display with their new reproduction 18th century cannon.

Anyone looking for a little something different might consider a dinner cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet. The tickets do cost $65, but the buffet menu looks scrumptious and there will be a DJ. Boarding starts at 6:30 p.m. and the cruise goes from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. so you should have  a prime view of the fireworks.