Mad About You: Christmas Lights Up the City


Light Up Night in Pittsburgh
Madeline Bucci and Naomi Schwaiger embracing in front of the large tree in the center of Pittsburgh.

We’ve all heard it, and Andy Williams expressed it beautifully in song: it’s the most wonderful time of the year. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…,” you can hear the faint jingle of Christmas carols, smell the gingerbread, and see multicolored lights twinkle on trees. Stores become frantic with those shopping for their loved ones, and sales pop up everywhere. Everyone starts showing up to school in big, cozy sweaters bearing reds, greens, golds, reindeer, snowflakes and Nordic patterns. Homes fill with the sweet scent of Santa shaped cookies as everyone’s waist bands begin to expand. It’s Christmastime!
A classic local Christmas activity is the traditional Light Up Night in downtown Pittsburgh. Along with the illumination of the whispy, whimsical trees that line the streets, a gargantuan tree is a beacon as it illuminates in the center of the city, holding thousands of white lights, jolly bulbs, golden ribbons, and a star on the top of the tree for a final, festive touch. At the base of the tree is a circular ice skating rink, a time-honored tradition. Nearby, the Holly Trolly carries people through Downtown to their destinations.
Although these lights are glistening every night through New Year’s, Light Up Night is special. I was able to finally behold this enchanting evening for myself. Along with the first night of these beautiful decorations, the city also put up a lovely display of fireworks. Throughout the streets, local business set up trailers that had a scent smelling of their signature foods for awed spectators lined up along the rivers right outside downtown. Even though Light Up Night is held six days before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t help but feel the Christmas spirit in full swing.
Even as I rejoice the holiday in the feelings that Christmas brings, it truly isn’t all about that. Yes, it stirs a certain warmth from deep inside, the joy of selecting gifts for the ones I love, baking cookies, dressing in ugly Christmas sweaters, and pulling out the decorations. Yet to me, Christmas is about coming together with those in your family who you perhaps don’t see often enough or get along with harmoniously. For a day or two, all of that can go away while the atmosphere is enjoyed by everyone. As Frank Sinatra sings, “From now on, our troubles will be out of sight…”