What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: December 19-21, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events for the weekend of December 19-21, 2014. This weekend is your LAST CHANCE to check out many of the city’s holiday festivities.

All Weekend, December 19-21

Winter Flower Show at Phipps

The Winter Wonderland-themed Winter Flower Show at Phipps continues this weekend. From 5-11pm, visitors can also experience a Candlelit Evening and the outdoor Winter Light Garden.

Times: 9:30am-11pm daily with Candlelit Evenings and its outdoor Winter Light Garden from 5-11pm.

Cost: Adults $15, Children $11, Members free

Location: 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Holidays at the Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art

The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History’s holiday display includes the Neopolitan Presepio, a handcrafted nativity scene. Beginning on December 4th, the Hall of Architecture will also hold the Museum’s decorated 20-foot spruce trees.

Times: Friday and Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Museums, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Open Skate at MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place

The Plaza at PPG Place holds the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink open seven days/week with $3 skate rental, $8 adult entry and $7 children < 13 entry.

Times: Friday and Saturday 11am-midnight, Sunday noon-8pm

 

The Wintergarden at PPG Place

The Wintergarden at PPG Place is open seven days per week until January 7th. This free exhibit features a display of life-sized Santas and original paintings from various countries around the world, a 32 foot tree, gingerbread houses and a unique train display.

Times: Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-8pm

 

Last Weekend of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market

Market Square holds the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, open seven days/week. The Holiday Market is inspired by the original Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg and features European-style wooden chalets decorated for the holidays and selling high-quality gifts and ornaments. The Holiday Market also has its own Santa for kids to visit, live musical entertainment throughout the day and a light show every 30 minutes after dark.

Times: Fridays and Saturdays 11am-9:30pm, Sunday 11am-6pm

 

The Pittsburgh Creche 

The US Steel Tower Plaza on Grant Street houses the Pittsburgh Creche, the world’s only authorized replica of the Nativity Creche that stands outside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This outdoor display is free to visit.

 

PBT’s The Nutcracker

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s annual production of the Nutcracker continues this weekend. See website for specific information on times. Tickets start at $27.

Location: Benedum Center, 7th Street between Liberty and Penn

 

Last Weekend of the Highmark Holiday Pops

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents its annual “Highmark Holiday Pops” at Heinz Hall. Features classic Christmas music and a visit from Santa. More info about tickets and times can be at the link above.

 

Last Weekend of A Musical Christmas Carol

The Pittsburgh CLO presents its annual “A Musical Christmas Carol” at the Byham Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh. Enjoy this Charles Dickens’ classic with accompanying Christmas music. Children under age 3 are not permitted in the theater.

 

Annual Holiday Train Display at the Western PA Model Railroad Museum

The Western PA’s Model Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Display features an interactive children’s area on the bottom floor and a 4000 square foot model train display on the second floor. Also a gift shop and snack bar. On Friday evenings, there is a special “Steam at Twilight” event.

Times: Fridays from 6-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11-5pm

Cost: Adults $6, Children $4

Location: Western PA Model Railroad Museum, 5507 Lakeside Dr, Gibsonia, PA 15044

 

Overly’s Country Christmas

Located in Greensburg, Overly’s Country Christmas is a nonprofit old-fashioned Christmas Village open from November 21-January 1st, featuring lots of lights and holiday decorations, Christmas carols around the bonfire, a model train display, horse drawn wagon/sleigh rides, shopping, food and Santa.

Times: Gates open at 5:30pm

Cost: $15/car Friday-Sunday

Location: Overly’s Country Christmas, 116 Blue Ribbon Lane, Greensburg, PA 15601

 

Christmas Light Up Celebration in Clinton PA

Clinton PA holds its annual light display from November 20-January 4th, featuring over a mile of lights and displays in a woodland setting.

Times: Opens at 5pm

Cost: $10 per car donation requested

Location: 600 Clinton Park Drive, Clinton PA

 

Last Weekend of Kennywood’s Holiday Lights

Kennywood Amusement Park transforms into a winter wonderland of spectacular lights, family friendly rides, the Gingerbread Express Train, a holiday light show over the lagoon, visits with Santa and choral performances.

Times: 5-9pm

Cost: $17.99, save $2 by buying online or at Giant stores

Location: Kennywood Amusement Park, 4800 Kennywood Boulevard, West Mifflin, PA 15122

 

The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort

West Virginia’s Oglebay Resort holds its nationally-renowned 300-acre holiday light display.

Times: Sunset until 11pm on Friday and Saturday and 10pm on Sunday

Cost: A per car donation requested and valid for the entire season

Location: Oglebay Resorts, 465 Lodge Drive, Wheeling WV

 

Friday Night, December 19

Tween and Teen Maker Night at Assemble

Youth ages 11-17 are invited to an evening of building board games from scratch with the team at Assemble. Drinks and snacks provided.

Times: 5-7pm

Cost: Free

Location: 5125 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15225

 

Last Ham Standing: All Ages Show at the Arcade Comedy Theater

Every member of your family is invited to this improv comedy show based on audience suggestions for the storyline.

Times: 8pm

Cost: Adults $10, Children $5

Location: Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Saturday and Sunday, December 20-21

Last Weekend of Breakfast with Santa at Macy’s

Families can enjoy a buffet breakfast with Santa at Macy’s in Downtown Pittsburgh. Breakfast is accompanied by a live holiday production. All kids take home a gift. Advance registration requested.

Times: 10am

Cost: $19.95 Adults, $13.95 Children 10 and under, Children under 12 months free

Location: Macy’s, 400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219

 

Last Weekend of the Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s Free Holly Trolley

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s will be offering a free Holly Trolley again this year. Run by “Santa’s little helpers,” this trolley circles downtown on Saturdays and Sundays.

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Click link above to find pick-up and drop-off locations

 

Last Weekend of Visits with Santa at Phipps

Santa will be visiting Phipps Conservatory this weekend!

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Last Weekend of Holiday KidsPlay

A new holiday tradition on the 800 block of Liberty Avenue, Holiday Kidsplay offers drop-in kid-friendly activities at venues in the Cultural District, including the Arcade Comedy Theater, Harris Theater and Trust Arts Education Center. Sunday features a special live musical review by the Pittsburgh Playhouse Conservatory of Performing Arts at the Harris Theater. Also, there is a special puppet-making workshop for the First Night parade. Advance registration is required to attend this workshop.

Times: 12-5pm

Cost: Free

 

Last Weekend of Christmas on the Farm at Schramm’s Farm

Schramm’s Farm is offering a “Christmas on the Farm” event with horsedrawn wagon rides or tractor hayrides, Christmas music, holiday displays and visits to Santa’s Workshop.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: Free to attend

Location: Schramm’s Farm, 1002 Blank Rd, Jeanette, PA

 

Gemini Children’s Theater “The Gift of the Ice Queen”

The Gemini Children’s Theater’s holiday show this year will be “The Gift of the Ice Queen.”

Times: 1 and 3:30pm

Cost: $12

Location: Gemini Children’s Theater, 7501 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Last Weekend of Santa Family Fun Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

Families can visit with Santa Claus during a special cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, featuring a DJ dance party and special gifts for all boys and girls.

Times: 1:30pm

Cost: $25 for adults and $12 for children

Location: Gateway Clipper dock is located at Station Square

 

“Our First Christmas” Week at the Row House Cinema

Lawrenceville’s Row House Cinema will be celebrating its first Christmas by showing holiday movies. Special kid-friendly showings of Home Alone (noon on Saturday) and Christmas Vacation (noon on Sunday) will be offered.

Cost: Matinee tickets $6

Location: 4115 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Saturday, December 20

Last Weekend of Breakfast Express at the Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center invites families to its “Breakfast Express” event featuring a hot breakfast, a Polar Express Imax movie, a meet-and-greet with Mr. McFeely and the chance to explore the Miniature Railroad and Village plus all the other exhibits! Advance registration requested.

Times: 8:30-12:30pm

Cost: $25 member / $30 non-member (adult); $20 member / $25 non-member (child or senior), $10 (all children 1–2 years)

Location: Carnegie Science Center, One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Last Weekend of Breakfast with Santa on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

The Gateway Clipper Fleet is offering a buffet breakfast with Santa Claus. Call 412-355-7980 for more information about availability. Cruise departs at 9:30am with boarding one half hour prior.

 

Peanut Butter and Jam Sessions with Chatham Baroque

Chatham Baroque offers early childhood-friendly concerts to introduce kids to baroque music called “Peanut Butter and Jam Sessions.” These concerts feature music, movement and other interactive activities designed to engage young children. This month’s Peanut Butter and Jam Session is entitled, “Meet the One-Keyed Wonder: the Baroque Flute.”

Times: 10am, 11:30am

Cost: $10 Adults, $8 Children

Location: McClintic Hall, Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside

 

Cookies with Santa at Boyce Park

Enjoy cookies with Santa at the Four Seasons Lodge at Boyce Park Ski Area. There will also be hot chocolate, craft activities and holiday music. Families are invited to bring a new board game to be donated to children in need.

Times: 10-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Boyce Park, Four Seasons Lodge

 

Last Weekend of Free Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Downtown Pittsburgh

Enjoy a complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides during the holiday season in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Board on Fourth Avenue next to the Plaza at PPG Place

 

Last Weekend of Creation Stations at Fifth Avenue Place

This week’s Creation Station at Fifth Avenue Place is called “The Frozen Life” where kids can make ice paintings and keepsake bead rings. Also, airbrush tattoos will be offered.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Fifth Avenue Place, Fifth and Liberty Avenue

 

Last Weekend of Photos with Santa and his Penguin Helpers at the National Aviary

The National Aviary invites children to visit with Santa and his penguin helpers. Kids can also take home a bird seed ornament to feed the birds in their backyard.

Times: 11:30-1:30pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh 15212

 

Last Weekend of Saturdays at One Oxford Centre

One Oxford Center in Downtown Pittsburgh offers special holiday-themed entertainment, activities, crafts and visits with Santa.

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: One Oxford Centre, Pittsburgh PA

 

Saturday Crafternoons: Clay Birdhouses with Tom Hughes

Children in grades 1-5 plus caregivers are invited to a free afternoon of making clay birdhouses with local artisan, Tom Hughes.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: 5125 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15224

 

Sunday, December 21

Please note: The Carnegie Science Center is closed today due to a Steelers home game.

 

“Skate with Our Winter Characters” with Volunteer Princesses

Come to Schenley Park Ice Rink to skate with Jack Frost, the Frozen sisters and a special surprise guest–all from the fantastic youth involved in the Volunteer Princesses organization! Bring a new or gently used book to donate to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Times: 4-6:30pm

Cost: Free with admission to the ice rink

Location: Schenley Park Ice Rink, Schenley Park, Oakland

 

Have a great weekend!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: December 12-14, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events for the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of December 12-14, 2014. Once again, this weekend is jam packed with holiday events throughout the city!

 

All Weekend, December 12-14

Winter Flower Show at Phipps

The Winter Wonderland-themed Winter Flower Show at Phipps continues this weekend. From 5-11pm, visitors can also experience a Candlelit Evening and the outdoor Winter Light Garden.

Times: 9:30am-11pm daily with Candlelit Evenings and its outdoor Winter Light Garden from 5-11pm.

Cost: Adults $15, Children $11, Members free

Location: 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Holidays at the Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art

The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History’s holiday display includes the Neopolitan Presepio, a handcrafted nativity scene. Beginning on December 4th, the Hall of Architecture will also hold the Museum’s decorated 20-foot spruce trees.

Times: Friday and Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Museums, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place

The Plaza at PPG Place holds the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink open seven days/week with $3 skate rental, $8 adult entry and $7 children < 13 entry.

Times: Friday and Saturday 11am-midnight, Sunday noon-8pm

 

The Wintergarden at PPG Place

The Wintergarden at PPG Place is open seven days per week until January 7th. This free exhibit features a display of life-sized Santas and original paintings from various countries around the world, a 32 foot tree, gingerbread houses and a unique train display.

Times: Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-8pm

 

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market

Market Square holds the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, open seven days/week. The Holiday Market is inspired by the original Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg and features European-style wooden chalets decorated for the holidays and selling high-quality gifts and ornaments. The Holiday Market also has its own Santa for kids to visit, live musical entertainment throughout the day and a light show every 30 minutes after dark.

Times: Fridays and Saturdays 11am-9:30pm, Sunday 11am-6pm

 

The Pittsburgh Creche 

The US Steel Tower Plaza on Grant Street houses the Pittsburgh Creche, the world’s only authorized replica of the Nativity Creche that stands outside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This outdoor display is free to visit.

 

PBT’s The Nutcracker

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s annual production of the Nutcracker continues this weekend. See website for specific information on times. Tickets start at $27.

Location: Benedum Center, 7th Street between Liberty and Penn

 

Highmark Holiday Pops

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents its annual “Highmark Holiday Pops” at Heinz Hall from December 12-21st. Features classic Christmas music and a visit from Santa. More info about tickets and times can be at the link above.

 

A Musical Christmas Carol

The Pittsburgh CLO presents its annual “A Musical Christmas Carol.” Enjoy this Charles Dickens’ classic with accompanying Christmas music. Children under age 3 are not permitted in the theater. See website for specific ticket prices and times.

Location: Byham Theater, 101 6th Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Holiday Spectacular at the Waterfront

The Waterfront is hosting a weekend-long holiday event with live musical performances, free photos with Santa (Friday and Sunday), appearances from favorite winter characters, kids crafts, treats and giveaways!

Times: Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 12-7pm, Sunday 12-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: The Waterfront, Homestead PA

 

Annual Holiday Train Display at the Western PA Model Railroad Museum

The Western PA’s Model Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Display features an interactive children’s area on the bottom floor and a 4000 square foot model train display on the second floor. Also a gift shop and snack bar. On Friday evenings, there is a special “Steam at Twilight” event.

Times: Fridays from 6-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11-5pm

Cost: Adults $6, Children $4

Location: Western PA Model Railroad Museum, 5507 Lakeside Dr, Gibsonia, PA 15044

 

Overly’s Country Christmas

Located in Greensburg, Overly’s Country Christmas is a nonprofit old-fashioned Christmas Village open from November 21-January 1st, featuring lots of lights and holiday decorations, Christmas carols around the bonfire, a model train display, horse drawn wagon/sleigh rides, shopping, food and Santa.

Times: Gates open at 5:30pm

Cost: $15/car Friday-Sunday

Location: Overly’s Country Christmas, 116 Blue Ribbon Lane, Greensburg, PA 15601

 

Christmas Light Up Celebration in Clinton PA

Clinton PA holds its annual light display from November 20-January 4th, featuring over a mile of lights and displays in a woodland setting.

Times: Opens at 5pm

Cost: $10 per car donation requested

Location: 600 Clinton Park Drive, Clinton PA

 

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights

Kennywood Amusement Park transforms into a winter wonderland of spectacular lights, family friendly rides, the Gingerbread Express Train, a holiday light show over the lagoon, visits with Santa and choral performances.

Times: 5-9pm

Cost: $17.99, save $2 by buying online or at Giant stores

Location: Kennywood Amusement Park, 4800 Kennywood Boulevard, West Mifflin, PA 15122

 

The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort

West Virginia’s Oglebay Resort holds its nationally-renowned 300-acre holiday light display.

Times: Sunset until 11pm on Friday and Saturday and 10pm on Sunday

Cost: A per car donation requested and valid for the entire season

Location: Oglebay Resorts, 465 Lodge Drive, Wheeling WV

 

25th Annual Production of the Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity

The Shona Sharif African Dance & Drum Ensemble present Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity.

Times: Friday and Saturday 8pm, Sunday 5pm

Cost: Adults $20, Children 5-12 $10, Children under 5 Free

Location: Alumni Hall 7th Floor, 4227 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15260

 

Friday Night, December 12

Youth Make! at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Youth ages 10-15 are invited to a Youth Make! workshop, where they will be able to experience the museum’s MakeShop after hours without caregivers.

Times: 5-7pm

Cost: $10 nonmembers $8 members

Location: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Saturday and Sunday, December 13-14

Breakfast with Santa at Macy’s

Families can enjoy a buffet breakfast with Santa at Macy’s in Downtown Pittsburgh. Breakfast is accompanied by a live holiday production. All kids take home a gift. Advance registration requested.

Times: 10am

Cost: $19.95 Adults, $13.95 Children 10 and under, Children under 12 months free

Location: Macy’s, 400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219

 

Locomotion Weekend at the Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center is hosting a train-themed weekend full of interactive train layouts and other hands on activities.

Times: 10-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Science Center, One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Santa Trolley at the Pennyslvania Trolley Museum

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum offers its annual Santa Trolley featuring a caroling-filled trolley ride, a complimentary cup of hot chocolate, holiday craft, a Lionel toy train display and wooden train tables.

Times: 10-4pm

Cost: Adults $10, Children $7

Location: Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, 1 Museum Road, Washington PA 15301

 

Christmas in the Country at Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm

Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm holds its weekend “Christmas in the Country” event featuring a bonfire with marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, hot chocolate and complimentary wagon rides (if you purchase a Christmas tree or Christmas flowers). See website for specific information on times and costs.

Location: Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm, 1120 Roosevelt Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15237

 

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s Free Holly Trolley

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s will be running a free Holly Trolley again this year. Run by “Santa’s little helpers,” this trolley circles downtown on Saturdays and Sundays.

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Click link above to find pick-up and drop-off locations

 

Visits with Santa at Phipps

Santa will be visiting Phipps Conservatory this weekend!

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Holiday KidsPlay

A new holiday tradition on the 800 block of Liberty Avenue, Holiday Kidsplay offers drop-in kid-friendly activities at venues in the Cultural District, including the Arcade Comedy Theater, Harris Theater and Trust Arts Education Center. Sunday features a special live musical review by the Pittsburgh Playhouse Conservatory of Performing Arts at the Harris Theater. Also, there is a special puppet-making workshop for the First Night parade. Advance registration is required to attend this workshop.

Times: 12-5pm

Cost: Free

 

Christmas on the Farm at Schramm’s Farm

Schramm’s Farm is offering a “Christmas on the Farm” event with horsedrawn wagon rides or tractor hayrides, Christmas music, holiday displays and visits to Santa’s Workshop.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: Free to attend

Location: Schramm’s Farm, 1002 Blank Rd, Jeanette, PA

 

Gemini Children’s Theater “The Gift of the Ice Queen”

The Gemini Children’s Theater’s holiday show this year will be “The Gift of the Ice Queen.”

Times: 1 and 3:30pm

Cost: $12

Location: Gemini Children’s Theater, 7501 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Santa Family Fun Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

Families can visit with Santa Claus during a special cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, featuring a DJ dance party and special gifts for all boys and girls.

Times: 1:30pm

Cost: $25 for adults and $12 for children

Location: Gateway Clipper dock is located at Station Square

 

PirateFest

Celebrate the Pittsburgh Pirates at this year’s PirateFest held at the David L Lawrence Convention Center. There will be live events, autograph sessions, youth baseball clinics, games, etc.

Times: Saturday 12-7pm, Sunday 10-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: David L Lawrence Convention Center, 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd. Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Saturday, December 13

Breakfast Express at the Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center invites families to its “Breakfast Express” event featuring a hot breakfast, a Polar Express Imax movie, a meet-and-greet with Mr. McFeely and the chance to explore the Miniature Railroad and Village plus all the other exhibits! Advance registration requested.

Times: 8:30-12:30pm

Cost: $25 member / $30 non-member (adult); $20 member / $25 non-member (child or senior), $10 (all children 1–2 years)

Location: Carnegie Science Center, One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Breakfast with Santa on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

The Gateway Clipper Fleet is offering a buffet breakfast with Santa Claus. Call 412-355-7980 for more information about availability. Cruise departs at 9:30am with boarding one half hour prior.

 

Santa Express in Wexford

Santa will be traveling with the Wexford Volunteer Fire Department to visit all neighborhoods in Wexford. Starts around 10am.

 

Cookies with Santa at Round Hill Park Visitor’s Center

Families are invited to “Cookies with Santa” at Round Hill Park Visitor’s Center featuring cookies, hot chocolate, holiday crafts, holiday movies and Santa.

Times: 10-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Round Hill Park Visitor’s Center

 

Saturdays with the Sugar Plum Fairy at Phipps

The Sugar Plum Fairy will host a 30-minute creative movement class and storytime for children at Phipps.

Times: 10:30-11am

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Free Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Downtown Pittsburgh

Highwoods offers complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides during the holiday season.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Board on Fourth Avenue next to the Plaza at PPG Place

 

Creation Stations at Fifth Avenue Place

This week’s Creation Station at Fifth Avenue Place is called “It’s A Frozen Wonderland” where kids can make foil wreaths and a stained glass ornament. Also, elves will be doing facepainting and balloon art.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Fifth Avenue Place, Fifth and Liberty Avenue

 

Let’s Move! Family Dance Party at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater

The Kelly Strayhorn Theater is hosting a holiday-themed Let’s Move Family Dance Party featuring a DJ dance party, a drum and dance ensemble, refreshments, holiday craft activities and more.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Pay What You Can

Location: Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Yuletide in Sewickley

Enjoy free carriage rides, visits with Santa in Wolcott Park and live entertainment in Downtown Sewickley.

Times: 11-1pm

Cost: Free

Location: Downtown Sewickley

 

Photos with Santa and his Penguin Helpers at the National Aviary

The National Aviary invites children to visit with Santa and his penguin helpers. Kids can also take home a bird seed ornament to feed the birds in their backyard.

Times: 11:30-1:30pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh 15212

 

Saturdays at One Oxford Centre

One Oxford Center in Downtown Pittsburgh offers special holiday-themed entertainment, activities, crafts and visits with Santa.

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: One Oxford Centre, Pittsburgh PA

 

Penny Arcade at Arcade Comedy Theater

The Arcade Comedy Theater is offering its monthly kid-friendly improv show this weekend. Children engage in special interactive activities prior to the show to generate ideas to be incorporated into the storyline.

Times: 1pm

Cost: $10

Location: Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Holiday Card-Making at Saturday Crafternoons at Assemble

This week children in grades 1-6 can drop in for an afternoon of free card-making with the staff of Assemble.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Assemble, 5125 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Skate with Santa at MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink

The MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place is hosting a Skate with Santa.

Times: 2-4pm

Cost: Adults $8, Children $7

 

Soergel’s Snowflake Festival

Soergel Orchards will be holding its annual Snowflake Festival with horsedrawn carriage rides, visits with Santa and the Frozen sisters, an ice carver, live reindeer, Snowflake Express rides and more!

Times: 5-9pm

Cost: Free to attend

Location: Soergel Orchards, 2573 Brandt School Road, Wexford, PA 15090

 

Sunday, December 14

Skate with Santa at Schenley Park Ice Rink

Santa will be skating with families at the Schenley Park Ice Rink! There will also be music and refreshments at this event.

Times: 1:30-3:30pm

Cost: Adults $4, Children $3, Skate Rentals $2.50

Location: Schenley Ice Rink, Overlook Drive, Schenley Park

 

Have a great weekend!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: December 5-7, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of the December 5-7, 2014. Holiday fun continues this weekend with a ridiculous amount of seasonal events!!!

 

All Weekend, December 5-7

Winter Flower Show at Phipps

The Winter Wonderland-themed Winter Flower Show at Phipps continues this weekend. From 5-11pm, visitors can also experience a Candlelit Evening and the outdoor Winter Light Garden.

Times: 9:30am-11pm daily with Candlelit Evenings and its outdoor Winter Light Garden from 5-11pm.

Cost: Adults $15, Children $11, Members free

Location: 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Holidays at the Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art

The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History’s holiday display includes the Neopolitan Presepio, a handcrafted nativity scene. Beginning on December 4th, the Hall of Architecture will also hold the Museum’s decorated 20-foot spruce trees.

Times: Friday and Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Museums, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

The Lawrenceville Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour

This weekend Lawrenceville hosts its “Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour,” featuring free cookies and shopping at over 35 stops in Lawrenceville.

Times: Most shops open at 10am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday

Cost: Free

Location: Lawrenceville Business District

 

MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place

The Plaza at PPG Place holds the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink open seven days/week with $3 skate rental, $8 adult entry and $7 children < 13 entry.

Times: Friday and Saturday 11am-midnight, Sunday noon-8pm

 

The Wintergarden at PPG Place

The Wintergarden at PPG Place is open seven days per week until January 7th. This free exhibit features a display of life-sized Santas and original paintings from various countries around the world, a 32 foot tree, gingerbread houses and a unique train display.

Times: Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-8pm

 

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market

Market Square holds the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, open seven days/week. The Holiday Market is inspired by the original Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg and features European-style wooden chalets decorated for the holidays and selling high-quality gifts and ornaments. The Holiday Market also has its own Santa for kids to visit, live musical entertainment throughout the day and a light show every 30 minutes after dark.

Times: Fridays and Saturdays 11am-9:30pm, Sunday 11am-6pm

 

The Pittsburgh Creche 

The US Steel Tower Plaza on Grant Street houses the Pittsburgh Creche, the world’s only authorized replica of the Nativity Creche that stands outside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This outdoor display is free to visit.

 

First Weekend of the PBT’s Nutcracker

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s annual production of the Nutcracker begins this weekend. See website for specific information on times. Tickets start at $27.

Location: Benedum Center, 7th Street between Liberty and Penn

 

Annual Holiday Train Display at the Western PA Model Railroad Museum

The Western PA’s Model Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Display features an interactive children’s area on the bottom floor and a 4000 square foot model train display on the second floor. Also a gift shop and snack bar. On Friday evenings, there is a special “Steam at Twilight” event.

Times: Fridays from 6-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11-5pm

Cost: Adults $6, Children $4

Location: Western PA Model Railroad Museum, 5507 Lakeside Dr, Gibsonia, PA 15044

 

Overly’s Country Christmas

Located in Greensburg, Overly’s Country Christmas is a nonprofit old-fashioned Christmas Village open from November 21-January 1st, featuring lots of lights and holiday decorations, Christmas carols around the bonfire, a model train display, horse drawn wagon/sleigh rides, shopping, food and Santa.

Times: Gates open at 5:30pm

Cost: $15/car Friday-Sunday

Location: Overly’s Country Christmas, 116 Blue Ribbon Lane, Greensburg, PA 15601

 

Christmas Light Up Celebration in Clinton PA

Clinton PA holds its annual light display from November 20-January 4th, featuring over a mile of lights and displays in a woodland setting.

Times: Opens at 5pm

Cost: $10 per car donation requested

Location: 600 Clinton Park Drive, Clinton PA

 

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights

Kennywood Amusement Park transforms into a winter wonderland of spectacular lights, family friendly rides, the Gingerbread Express Train, a holiday light show over the lagoon, visits with Santa and choral performances.

Times: 5-9pm

Cost: $17.99, save $2 by buying online or at Giant stores

Location: Kennywood Amusement Park, 4800 Kennywood Boulevard, West Mifflin, PA 15122

 

The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort

West Virginia’s Oglebay Resort holds its nationally-renowned 300-acre holiday light display.

Times: Sunset until 11pm on Friday and Saturday and 10pm on Sunday

Cost: A per car donation requested and valid for the entire season

Location: Oglebay Resorts, 465 Lodge Drive, Wheeling WV

 

A Musical Christmas Carol

The Pittsburgh CLO presents its annual “A Musical Christmas Carol.” Enjoy this Charles Dickens’ classic with accompanying Christmas music. Children under age 3 are not permitted in the theater. See website for specific ticket prices and times.

Location: Byham Theater, 101 6th Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Friday Night, December 5

LaRoche College Festival of Lights

LaRoche College celebrates its annual Festival of Lights with crafts, games, Santa, musical performances, carriage rides, a live nativity and fireworks.

Times: 3-9pm

Cost: Free

Location: LaRoche College, 9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh PA 15237

 

Sewickley Light Up Night

Sewickley hosts its annual Light Up Night with entertainment, food from local restaurants and vendor carts, shopping, and the Lighting of the Village followed by a fireworks show.

Times: 5-10pm

Cost: Free

Location: Sewickley Business District

 

Robinson Township Tree Lighting

Robinson Township holds its annual Tree Lighting featuring Christmas lights, refreshments, caroling and Santa.

Times: 6:30-7:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Clever Park

 

Saturday and Sunday, December 6-7

Breakfast with Santa at Macy’s

Families can enjoy a buffet breakfast with Santa at Macy’s in Downtown Pittsburgh. Breakfast is accompanied by a live holiday production. All kids take home a gift. Advance registration requested.

Times: 10am

Cost: $19.95 Adults, $13.95 Children 10 and under, Children under 12 months free

Location: Macy’s, 400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219

 

Santa Trolley at the Pennyslvania Trolley Museum

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum offers its annual Santa Trolley featuring a caroling-filled trolley ride, a complimentary cup of hot chocolate, holiday craft, a Lionel toy train display and wooden train tables.

Times: 10-4pm

Cost: Adults $10, Children $7

Location: Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, 1 Museum Road, Washington PA 15301

 

Christmas in the Country at Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm

Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm holds its weekend “Christmas in the Country” event featuring a bonfire with marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, hot chocolate and complimentary wagon rides (if you purchase a Christmas tree or Christmas flowers). See website for specific information on times and costs.

Location: Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm, 1120 Roosevelt Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15237

 

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s Free Holly Trolley

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s will be running a free Holly Trolley again this year. Run by “Santa’s little helpers,” this trolley circles downtown on Saturdays and Sundays.

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Click link above to find pick-up and drop-off locations

 

Visits with Santa at Phipps

Santa will be visiting Phipps Conservatory this weekend!

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Holiday KidsPlay

A new holiday tradition on the 800 block of Liberty Avenue, Holiday Kidsplay offers drop-in kid-friendly activities at venues in the Cultural District, including the Arcade Comedy Theater, Harris Theater and Trust Arts Education Center. Sunday features a special live musical review by the Pittsburgh Playhouse Conservatory of Performing Arts at the Harris Theater.

Times: 12-5pm

Cost: Free

 

Gemini Children’s Theater “The Gift of the Ice Queen”

The Gemini Children’s Theater’s holiday show this year will be “The Gift of the Ice Queen.”

Times: 1 and 3:30pm

Cost: $12

Location: Gemini Children’s Theater, 7501 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Santa Family Fun Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

Families can visit with Santa Claus during a special cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, featuring a DJ dance party and special gifts for all boys and girls.

Times: 1:30pm

Cost: $25 for adults and $12 for children

Location: Gateway Clipper dock is located at Station Square

 

Saturday, December 6

Breakfast Express at the Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center invites families to its “Breakfast Express” event featuring a hot breakfast, a Polar Express Imax movie, a meet-and-greet with Mr. McFeely and the chance to explore the Miniature Railroad and Village plus all the other exhibits! Advance registration requested.

Times: 8:30-12:30pm

Cost: $25 member / $30 non-member (adult); $20 member / $25 non-member (child or senior), $10 (all children 1–2 years)

Location: Carnegie Science Center, One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Light Up Dormont

Dormont holds it annual holiday event featuring the Fireman’s Annual Christmas Parade at 10am on West Liberty and Potomac Avenue. Parade is followed by Cookies with Santa hosted by the borough from 3-5:30pm at the Recreation Center. Finally, Light Up Dormont begins at 6:30pm at the Recreation Center, featuring carolers from Dormont Elementary and tree lighting.

 

Saturdays with the Sugar Plum Fairy at Phipps

The Sugar Plum Fairy will host a 30-minute creative movement class and storytime for children at Phipps.

Times: 10:30-11am

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Free Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Downtown Pittsburgh

Highwoods offers complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides during the holiday season.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Board on Fourth Avenue next to the Plaza at PPG Place

 

Creation Stations at Fifth Avenue Place

This week’s Creation Station at Fifth Avenue Place features Chris Handa “bringing the magic of the holidays to life” by demonstrating how ice cream is made. Kids can then create spin art and make their own elf hats.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Fifth Avenue Place, Fifth and Liberty Avenue

 

Cool Yule Free Family Fun Day at the Frick

The Frick offers its annual family celebration for the season featuring stories, family-friendly tours of the Clayton (adult admission rates apply) and holiday art-making.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Frick Art and Historical Museum, 7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Yuletide in Sewickley

Enjoy free carriage rides, visits with Santa in Wolcott Park and live entertainment in Downtown Sewickley.

Times: 11-1pm

Cost: Free

Location: Downtown Sewickley

 

Singin’ with Santa by the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale

A Christmas concert just for kids, Singin’ with Santa features sing-a-long style holiday music and visits with Santa!

Time: 11am

Cost: $10 per family or $5 for parent plus child

Location: Ingomar United Methodist Church, 1501 West Ingomar Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15237

 

Holiday Unwrapped at Attack Theatre

The Attack Theatre presents its annual holiday dance adventure where “the frenetic season becomes a fantastical journey where socks become ice skates, empty packages become turntables, and the dinner table has a life of its own – all with the message that it’s better to dance with the box on your head than to fret over what’s inside.” In between performances there will also be kid-friendly interactive movement and play adventures.

Times: 11 and 2pm

Cost: $15 Adults, $5 Children

Location: Attack Theatre, 2425 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Handmade Arcade

Handmade Arcade is an annual independent craft fair with an annual attendance of over 8,000! The event begins with a puppet parade, has live entertainment and even has a kid-specific Hands-on Handmade area where families can work with local organizations to create handmade gift items.

Times: 11-7pm

Cost: Free!

Location: David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 1000 Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Photos with Santa and his Penguin Helpers at the National Aviary

The National Aviary invites children to visit with Santa and his penguin helpers. Kids can also take home a bird seed ornament to feed the birds in their backyard.

Times: 11:30-1:30pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh 15212

 

Saturdays at One Oxford Centre

One Oxford Center in Downtown Pittsburgh offers special holiday-themed entertainment, activities, crafts and visits with Santa.

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: One Oxford Centre, Pittsburgh PA

 

Light Up Point Breeze

Point Breeze is offering a holiday celebration featuring crafts, food, free hot chocolate, a roaring fire and more.

Times: 4-7pm

Cost: Free

Location: Reynolds Street near Gettysburg Avenue

 

Sunday, December 7

Nationality Rooms Open House at the Cathedral of Learning

The Cathedral of Learning will host the annual Holiday Open House featuring tours of the decorated Nationality Rooms, ethnic dance performances and ethnic refreshments available for purchase.

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15260

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving + a Few Outing Ideas for your Family this Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m taking a break from my comprehensive listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region this weekend as I celebrate the holiday with my family.

I couldn’t resist offering a few quick suggestions for some fun events this weekend:

Looking for some more ideas? Check out my 2014 Christmas in Pittsburgh Family Guide and my 2014 Indoor Play Spaces in Pittsburgh Family Guide.


Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Look for the Helpers, Pittsburgh

Fred Rogers Statue, Photo by Jonathan Plum

Fred Rogers Statue, Photo by Jonathan Plum

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” -Fred Rogers

The Fred Rogers statue pictured above sits on the North Side of our city, overlooking the Golden Triangle of Downtown Pittsburgh. The statue is a reminder to us that our city was privileged-however briefly-to rub elbows with one of the most inspired individuals of the last century, Fred Rogers.

Known to most of our generation simply as Mister Rogers, he was a man who first influenced us in our pj’s on our living room couches as mere babies. We found comfort in the characteristic exchange of his work jacket for his home sweater, of his shiny work shoes for his blue sneakers. We waited with bated breath for him to feed his fish and to get his special deliveries. And we learned about his neighborhood–and indirectly our own–through the field trips we took with him in our imaginations.

I was recently asked to take another field trip through my neighborhood by Mister Rogers–or, at least, by an important piece of his legacy–the Fred Rogers Company. I am lucky enough to live in Pittsburgh–the same place that Mister Rogers frequented–and the people of my city are as beautiful today as they were in my imagination all those years ago…

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This photo, which has become the image associated with my blog, was taken at Randyland–the home of Randy Gilson on the North Side. Randy has transformed previously vacant and poorly maintained lots into havens of art and greenery. I’m so glad Randy Gilson and Randyland are a part of my neighborhood.

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 This photo shows Homewood’s Art House–a project of Vanessa German. Vanessa has created a safe space for children to be creative and form positive relationships within a dangerous part of our city. I’m so glad Vanessa German and Art House are a part of my neighborhood.

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The photo above shows Free Store 15104–a completely FREE store located in Braddock, PA. Started by Gisele Fetterman, the Free Store redistributes donated and surplus items to those in need. The only requirement? Pay it forward when you can. I’m glad Gisele Fetterman and Free Store 15104 are a part of my neighborhood.

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The photo above was taken after a snack drive I hosted for Jeremiah’s Place, the city’s first emergency nursery. Started by a group of local mothers, Jeremiah’s place offers free childcare for up to 72 hours for families in crisis. I’m so glad Jeremiah’s Place and its founders are in my neighborhood.

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The photo above is our Little Free Library, built a couple of years ago by my husband to commemorate the 5th anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Our Little Free Library brought our neighborhood together through a shared love of books.

The truth is that I could go on forever with photos and stories of my inspired neighbors in Pittsburgh. I believe my city is full of them. In fact, I believe every city is full of them. And I know Mister Rogers would agree.

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
Fred Rogers

Won’t you #BeMyNeighbor?

Visit wontyoubemyneighbor.org to find out how ordinary citizens everywhere are taking Mister Rogers’ message to heart and changing the lives of their neighbors every day. You won’t be disappointed. And please remember to share your own stories with #BeMyNeighbor.

Let’s look for the helpers, Pittsburgh….

This blog post has been generously sponsored by the Fred Rogers Company and the Motherhood. However, my support of Mister Rogers and his beautiful message is 100% my own.

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: November 21-23, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of November 21-23, 2014. Highlights of this weekend include LIGHT UP NIGHT 2014 and a TON of holiday events!! In case you can’t tell, this is my favorite time of year :).

 

Friday Night, November 21

54th Annual Light Up Night in Downtown Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hosts the official kickoff of the holiday season at Light Up Night 2014. The evening features various official tree lightings, visits with Santa, reindeer sightings, free horse-drawn carriage rides, the unveiling of the Macy’s window displays, ice skating, music, food, fireworks and so much more! Please see link above for a complete rundown of events and attractions this year.

 

Winter Wonderland at the Overlook

The Elliot Community Group hosts Winter Wonderland at the West End Overlook, an alternative to Downtown’s “Light Up Night” celebration. Santa will arrive on a fire engine and there will also be games, food and hot cocoa for sale and live music. Plus, you will be able to see the main fireworks display over the city.

 

Free Community Concert by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents a free 45-minute concert featuring the music of Wagner, Mozart, Revel and others.

Time: 7pm

Cost: FREE! Tickets can be reserved in advance or are available at the door on a first come-first serve basis.

Location: Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

 

Santa Claus is Shopping in Monongahela

Monongahela hosts its annual “Santa Claus is Shopping” event on November 21st at 5:30pm, featuring a Christmas tree display, live entertainment, visits with Santa, face-painting and children’s activities.

 

Santa’s First Stop in Cranberry Township

Cranberry Township holds its annual Santa’s First Stop event at its Municipal Building with activities and crafts starting at 6pm, Santa’s arrival at 7pm, a chance to visit with Santa, Mrs Claus and their reindeers, the giant Lego train display and a stroll through the annual Cranberry Tree Gallery.

 

Light up Kittanning Night

Kittanning hosts its annual light up event on November 21st from 6-9pm, featuring Santa’s arrival with Frosty the Snowman, live entertainment, free cookies and hot chocolate, pony rides, dog sled rides and tons more.

 

All Weekend, November 21-23

First Weekend of the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place

Starting at Light Up Night, The Plaza at PPG Place will house the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink seven days/week with $3 skate rental, &8 adult entry and $7 children < 13 entry.

Times: Friday and Saturday 11am-midnight, Sunday noon-8pm

 

First Weekend of the Wintergarden at PPG Place

The Wintergarden at PPG Place opens at Light Up Night and is open seven days per week until January 7th. This free exhibit features a display of life-sized Santas and original paintings from various countries around the world, a 32 foot tree, gingerbread houses, and a unique train display.

Times: Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 9am-8pm

 

First Weekend of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market

Market Square hosts the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, open seven days/week starting at Light Up Night. The Holiday Market is inspired by the original Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg and features European-style wooden chalets decorated for the holidays and selling high-quality gifts and ornaments. The Holiday Market also has its own Santa for kids to visit, live musical entertainment throughout the day and a light show every 30 minutes after dark.

Times: Fridays and Saturdays 11am-9:30pm, Sunday 11am-6pm

 

First Weekend of the Pittsburgh Creche 

The US Steel Tower Plaza on Grant Street houses the Pittsburgh Creche starting at Light Up Night and continuing until January 7th. The Pittsburgh Creche is the world’s only authorized replica of the Nativity Creche that stands outside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

 

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

PNC Broadway Across America presents Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a new musical based on the classic holiday movie running from November 18-23rd at the Benedum Center. See website for ticket information.

 

Annual Holiday Train Display at the Western PA Model Railroad Museum

The Western PA’s Model Railroad Museum’s Holiday Train Display is back! The two-story museum features an interactive children’s area on the bottom floor and a 4000 square foot model train display on the second floor. Also a gift shop and snack bar. On Friday evenings, there is a special “Steam at Twilight” event.

Times: Fridays from 6-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11-5pm

Cost: Adults $6, Children $4

Location: Western PA Model Railroad Museum, 5507 Lakeside Dr, Gibsonia, PA 15044

 

17th Annual Greater Pittsburgh Arts & Crafts Holiday Spectacular

One the region’s largest and most well-known holiday crafts shows, the Holiday Spectacular will be at the Monroeville Convention Center this weekend with over 270 vendors, food samples, visits with Santa, face-painting and a balloon artist.

Times: Friday 10-9pm, Saturday 10-6pm, Sunday 10-5pm

Cost: Adults $6, Children >6 $1, Children <6 Free

Location: Monroeville Convention Center, 209 Mall Boulevard, Monroeville PA

 

Mon River Arts Presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Mon River Arts presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” based on the favorite children’s series at Grand Theater in Elizabeth, PA from November 20-23.

 

First weekend of Overly’s Country Christmas

Located in Greensburg, Overly’s Country Christmas is a nonprofit old-fashioned Christmas Village open from November 21-January 1st, featuring lots of lights and holiday decorations, Christmas carols around the bonfire, a model train display, horse drawn wagon/sleigh rides, shopping, food and Santa.

Times: Gates open at 5:30pm

Cost: $12/car Monday-Thursday and $15/car Friday-Sunday

Location: Overly’s Country Christmas, 116 Blue Ribbon Lane, Greensburg, PA 15601

 

First Weekend of the Christmas Light Up Celebration in Clinton PA

Clinton PA holds its annual light display from November 20-January 4th, featuring over a mile of lights and displays in a woodland setting. On November 20-21st, there is a special walk-through experience. There are also hayrides and carolers during this celebration.

Times: Opens at 5pm

Cost: $10 per car donation requested

Location: 600 Clinton Park Drive, Clinton PA

 

The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort

West Virginia’s Oglebay Resort holds its nationally-renowned 300-acre holiday light display on Thursdays-Sundays starting on November 14th. A per car donation is requested and is valid for the entire festival season.

Times: Sunset until 11pm on Friday and Saturday and 10pm on Sunday

Cost: A per car donation requested and valid for the entire season

Location: Oglebay Resorts, 465 Lodge Drive, Wheeling WV

 

Saturday and Sunday, November 22-23

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s Free Holly Trolley

Fifth Avenue Place and Macy’s will be running a free Holly Trolley again this year. Run by “Santa’s little helpers,” this trolley circles downtown on Saturdays and Sundays (and Friday, November 28th).

Times: 11-5pm

Cost: Free

Location: Click link above to find pick-up and drop-off locations

 

Holiday KidsPlay

A new holiday tradition on the 800 block of Liberty Avenue, Holiday Kidsplay offers drop-in kid-friendly activities at venues in the Cultural District, including the Arcade Comedy Theater, Harris Theater and Trust Arts Education Center.

Times: 12-5pm

Cost: Free

 

Free Admission for Kids at the Pittsburgh Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo is offering children free admission (with the purchase of an adult ticket) until November 30.

Times: 9-5pm

Location: Pittsburgh Zoo, One Wild Place, Pittsburgh PA

 

Saturday, November 22

Free Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Downtown Pittsburgh

Highwoods offers complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides during the holiday season.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Board on Fourth Avenue next to the Plaza at PPG Place

 

Saturdays at One Oxford Centre

One Oxford Center in Downtown Pittsburgh offers special holiday-themed entertainment, activities, crafts and visits with Santa.

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: One Oxford Centre, Pittsburgh PA

 

Mascot Skate at the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at the Plaza at PPG Place

The newly re-opened MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink will hold a mascot skate.

Times: 1-3pm

Cost: $3 skate rental, &8 adult entry and $7 children < 13 entry

 

Kid City Dance Party with DJ Kelly Mom at the Children’s Museum

Kid City is Pittsburgh’s premiere indie dance party for families and it’s coming to the Children’s Museum.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Saturday Crafternoon at Assemble

Assemble hosts its weekly Saturday afternoon free workshop for children in grades 1-8. This week, kids will make winter decorations for the upcoming Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation Holiday Party.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Assemble, 5125 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Greensburg Holiday Parade

Greensburg hosts its annual Holiday Parade on November 22nd at noon beginning on North Main Street near the Middle School and ending at City Hall.

 

Brackrenridge-Tarentum Christmas Parade

Brackrenridge and Tarentum hold their annual Christmas Parade starting at 1pm at the Tarentum Bridge.

 

Light-Up Night and Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt in Butler

Butler County Parks and Recreation is hosting a “Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt” featuring live music, hot chocolate and popcorn, caroling and a candy cane hunt.

Times: 5pm

Cost: $7/child

 

Annual Shaler “Lite” Up Night

Shaler Township holds it annual “Lite Up Night” on November 22nd at 7pm in front of the Shaler North Hills Library, featuring visits with Santa, Mrs. Claus, the reindeers, etc.

 

Oakmont’s Hometown Christmas and Parade

The Oakmont business district hosts a night of Christmas festivities, including a Christmas Parade with Santa, marching bands, floats, horses, and lots more.  Other activities that evening: a Nutcracker performance by Western PA Youth Ballet, musical performances, Christmas tree lighting, horse and buggy rides, free Christmas cookies, pictures with Santa, and lots of children’s activities!

 

Season of Lights in White Oak

White Oak hosts its annual “Season of Lights” event.

 

Sunday, November 23

Big Nate by the Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater

The Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater presents the musical, “Big Nate,” a production by Adventure Theater based on a well-known comic strip and books. Best for audiences 5 and up.

Times: 11am, 2pm

Cost: $11

Location: Byham Theater, 101 6th Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

The Nutcracker Holiday Party

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre hosts its FREE Nutcracker-themed Open House with a storytime, holiday crafts, dance classes, performance excerpts and a stage makeup station.

Times: 12-3pm

Location: PBT Studios, 2900 Liberty Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15201

 

Have a fantastic weekend!

Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy: Denise O’Connor and the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank

In my “Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy” series, I feature Pittsburgh mothers who have started unique grassroots-type projects within the city. These projects directly benefit the greater good of Pittsburgh and improve the lives of our children, families, and/or other mothers.  The series is my humble effort to create a positive, supportive environment among Pittsburgh mothers.  I hope that it will a) help make these projects a success b) motivate other mothers to help support these projects and c) inspire other mothers to make their own dreams a reality.  An introduction to the series can be found here.

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Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy, Denise O’Connor

As Thanksgiving approaches each year, I always get a little weepy. I look at my kids. I look at my husband. I look at my niece and nephew, my mom, my truest friends and I think…”God, how did I get so lucky?” I am blessed in so many ways–not least of all for taking a crazy leap of faith and starting this blog nearly two years ago.

Since doing so, I’ve been honored to meet brilliant women who have changed my life. Gisele Fetterman of Free Store 15104. Lynne Williams of Jeremiah’s Place. Tracy Certo of NEXTpittsburgh. These brave women are forging a new Pittsburgh for us–a place where an inspired idea can turn into something much more…true, important, beautiful change for Pittsburgh families.

I would like to introduce you to Denise O’Connor–a woman who recently joined the ranks of Pittsburgh mothers who are driving this sea change. Denise is the founder of the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank (TRMMB), Pennsylvania’s first human milk bank. Denise’s TRMMB will first benefit the tiniest of Pittsburgh’s citizens–the newborns in our city’s neonatal intensive care units. But when these sick infants grow up to be healthy productive adults, the benefits will be absolutely immeasurable.

NICU cutie. Photo courtesy of TRMMB

NICU cutie’s first yawn after extubation. Photo courtesy of TRMMB

Here’s my recent interview with my next Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy, Denise O’Connor:

What is the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank?

Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank will be the first human milk bank in our state and will provide pasteurized milk from screened donors to the neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), hospitals and outpatients of both Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Why does Pittsburgh need a milk bank?

Exclusive feeding with human milk is the very best protection against a number of serious and sometimes fatal complications for babies within the NICU. For example, one of the most devastating conditions common to premature infants is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an inflammation of the GI tract that happens in 10% of babies born before 32 weeks. Up to 50% of babies who get NEC require surgery to remove a portion of their intestines and up to 25% of babies with NEC die. The use of donor milk can decrease the risk of NEC by a whopping 80%. Babies who receive donor milk also leave the NICU sooner and have higher rates of breastfeeding at discharge.

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Pumped human milk. Photo courtesy of TRMMB

How will the milk be distributed?

Donor milk is distributed by prescription only. While most of the donor milk from milk banks is used by babies within the NICU setting, it is sometimes also used for outpatients. Donor milk may be  prescribed for a variety of reasons including malabsorption issues, immunological disorders, allergies, post surgical nutrition and  prematurity.

Is using another woman’s breast milk safe?

Absolutely! Donor milk from Human Milk Banking Association of America (HMBANA) milk banks is typically used by medically fragile babies so safety is a number one concern. Donors are healthy lactating women who must pass a thorough screening process that includes an interview, a detailed medical history, a statement of health from the donor’s physician and a blood screening identical to that done by blood banks. Donated milk is also pasteurized which eliminates all bacteria and pathogens.

How can women donate milk?

A woman would simply call the milk bank and we would start the screening process. Once approved, she would pump milk in the comfort of her own home and store it in her freezer.  Once a significant amount is accumulated, she could drop it off at the milk bank or a nearby depot or even ship it to us for processing.

What stage are you in right now with this project?

I am really amazed with how much we have achieved in just one short year. After incorporating last fall, we became part of the Human Milk Banking Association of America (HMBANA), which sets guidelines for the screening of donors, the processing of milk and distribution. Next, we became an official 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.  Now we are turning our attention to fundraising. Our total fundraising goal is $500,000, which is all for start-up costs. We are pursuing a number of funding sources, including grants and corporate sponsors.

We also have an Indiegogo campaign, which started on November 10th. Since some of our biggest supporters have been young families, we felt that a crowd-funding campaign would be the perfect way to maximize the impact of those who are the most excited about this project. Our month-long Indiegogo campaign is focused on funding the equipment needed for the milk bank. Our goal is to raise $50,000, but we would be thrilled if we exceeded it since every dollar gets us closer to opening.

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Donor milk. Photo courtesy of TRMMB

Next, we discussed her inspiration for starting the project:

 

How did your professional and personal experiences inspire you to launch this project?

I breastfed all three of my children- Andrew (18), Gavin (15), and Anna (12).  I had horrible latch issues with my first child and if it were not for Le Leche League and a very helpful lactation consultant,  I would have never made it through that period. After that experience, I decided to become a Le Leche League Leader. Ten years ago, I also became an IBCLC certified lactation consultant and have been in private practice ever since.

As a lactation consultant, I have long been aware of the health benefits of breast milk for vulnerable infants. I have been telling colleagues for ten years that I wanted to establish a milk bank in Pittsburgh, but felt that the medical community in our city wasn’t ready for it yet. Last July, I stumbled upon a story on KDKA about a local woman who donated her milk to the milk bank in Columbus. In the story, Dr. Nilima Karamchandani, director of West Penn’s NICU was interviewed. At one point, she said that she wished this service was available in Pittsburgh.  “Aha!” I thought, “It is time!”

I called Dr. Karamchandani and told her I would be willing to give it a go if there was interest at the other hospitals. I began cold-calling all of the NICUs in the area and their directors all wanted this service. When I reached out to HMBANA to see what would be involved I realized that it was all very doable. Now neonatalogists from every one of those NICUs are involved in this project–as members of our board of directors or on our medical advisory board.

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Denise and her family. Photo by Jennifer Stein Photography

Finally, we discussed her personal life/professional life balance:

 

How do you balance your work and personal life?

I believe that you can have it all, just not all at once.  I definitely stepped back and focused on my children during their early years and I have no regrets. When my parents got sick, I lightened my professional responsibilities so I could spend time with them. Now that both of my parents are gone and my children are teens, I have the time to devote to a large project like this. The timing is just perfect for me.

*****

While working on this article, I had one last conversation with Denise O’Connor. It was a few days after her Indiegogo campaign had launched. Although she was far from her $50,000 goal, the campaign had already raised over $6000.

She confessed, “People are asking me, ‘What if we don’t reach our goal?'”

Although I didn’t say it, the truth was that I wondered the same thing.

“But I don’t worry about it,” Denise said, “I have faith we’ll get there. This is finally the right time.”

Denise has an incredible aura of confidence, capability, self-sufficiency. Her words reassured me. I believed her.

I also thought the statement reflected one of Denise’s greatest strengths. Patience.

She waited TEN years for the medical establishment to catch up with her vision of creating a milk bank in Pittsburgh. She didn’t rush them. She didn’t rush herself. She spent time at home with her kids–enjoying their young years. She spent months caring for her dying parents–savoring her last moments with them.

“I don’t have any regrets,” she said.

I believed her.

And when the time was right, she recognized it and had the courage to forge ahead.

Pittsburgh, we should be very, very thankful that Denise is a part of our city. She is that one-in-a-million individual with an inspired idea and the skills to bring it to fruition to change our lives.

Denise–we BELIEVE in you and the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank and all the beautiful benefits it will have for our sweet, little babies. We are here to help you.

*****

 Want to stay connected with the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank? Please visit their website, Indiegogo campaign, Facebook page and Twitter handle @3RiversMilkBank.