First Night in Downtown!

Pittsburgh Travel Blog

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Alysia at Grille on 7th
Along with two middle-aged couples heading over to the new Rivers casino, we pretty much filled the shuttle van.  We had fun chatting as the driver navigated along the hills outlying the city.  He dropped off the casino crew and then took us to just next to the Byham Theater.  From there we walked to the box office where we picked up our voucher tickets for an 8:30 performance by the River City Brass Band.  Kate is a big fan of the group but hasn't been able to attend any of their concerts this season due to her own band's practice schedule.  We browsed the schedule of events for the evening and then decided to go find dinner.  Alysia and I had scouted out a few restaurants while the others had waited in line, and Grille on 7th became our choice.
ice carver at work
  We were surprised to be seated immediately especially after the hostess asked if we had reservations.  At our round table in a corner near the restroom, we chatted some more while waiting for our food, several of us opting for the burger on the specials menu.  We had laughed when Kristen had ordered her burger; she went through all the condiments listed, saying that she did not want each one, not realizing until she reached the end that she had eliminated all the extras.  Despite having our ride already taken care of, we only had Lindsay choosing an alcoholic drink, Dreamgirls.
After dinner we walked over to the Byham Theater to get seats for our RCBB concert.  We paused in a small park to briefly watch an ice carver hard at work.
above the stage at the Byham Theater
  We could tell that the sculpture would have two people in it but that was about it.  Inside the Byham I walked a little bit slower in the lobby to enjoy the decor.  I have always loved looking at theaters built in an older era.  We walked up a wide hallway into a lobby behind the auditorium itself.  Through tall doors we entered the auditorium and found seats a little bit farther back than halfway.  We chatted as the hall filled up over the next half hour; I was grateful that no one really tall sat in front of me.  As the musicians set up, Kate noticed that a number of them were not the regular group members.  I guess since it was a holiday, those members had decided to call in favors from the sub band players.
Nevertheless, not having the regular members did nothing to diminish the group's talent and wonderful sound.
River City Brass Band warming up
  The director warned us that we would hear an unusual mix of pieces that night, and he was right but it was so enjoyable!  (well, except for a certain polka, the perils of being a Cleveland Browns fan by birth).  Their repertoire:
  • Greensleeves
  • Pennsylvania Polka (otherwise known as the Steeler Polka as evidenced by a fan waving a Terrible Towel over his head)
  • Hello, Dolly (with a singer who had the just right gravelly voice)
  • More Than A Feeling
  • Thunder and Lightning
  • Winter Wonderland
  • A jazz composition of the Nutcracker Suite
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • Ferondal (don't think I spelled that right, it's a French dance)
On our way out of the theater, we each picked up a what looked like a pen but was actually hand sanitizer.
Steel Town Fire performer
  We then stopped in the Family Tent.  Kate wanted some pigeon tattoos for the kids she works with (apparently they are from a book that is either a recent release or a soon-to-be released).  We also got glowsticks that turned into a game for the night; whose pink lightstick would stay around our necks the longest?  While the red ribbons were festive, they were not good at staying tied.  Either Kate or Lindsay had to retrieve her glowstick even before we left the tent.
Next up was a show by Steel Town Fire described in our program as Fire Dances.  Our attention was immediately caught by a young woman swallowing fire not once but twice.  We were entranced by the swirling ribbons of flame as the perfomers swung various apparatus (or is it apparati?)  Each performer seemed to have a speciality such as a long chain or a multiple-pronged instrument.
finale of Steel Town Fire
  Alysia noticed an aide standing near the stage with a heavy blanket to throw on an unexpected fires.  Only a few minutes later, the aide was called into action as the pants of one performer picked up a few flames.  The blanket effectively ended the danger.  For the finale all the performers returned to the stage at one time to show off their skills.
After the show we gallery-crawled and enjoyed looking at the art work in a few of the galleries along Penn.  I especially liked the gallery that displayed a mix of over hundred pieces from local artists that covered all styles and a range of mediums (photgraphy, sculpture, painting, stitchery).  Another gallery offered hot cider to go with the browsing of two to four signature pieces from about twenty artists.
the old year

We continued up Penn towards the Highmark Stage where the midnight revelry would take place.  We slipped into a shopping area and had a short rest before returning outside and staking out spots to watch the fireworks.  We took photographs of each other and smiled at nearby revelers as the year closed.
Flares shot off the top of buildings and the crowd counted the final ten seconds as a lighted ball rose up a pole located on a high roof.  At the shouts of "Happy New Year!" the swirling lights that read 2009 switched to 2010 and more fireworks went off.  We hugged and wished each other happy new year, content just to enjoy the moment.  Alysia and I made quick calls to family, and Kristen took a video of us in the first minutes of the brand new year.
fireworks

When the fireworks had finally ended, we made our way towards the Convention Center where our driver picked us up at the appointed time.  With traffic light, he cut across a few lanes to make getting in even easier for us.  We then stopped at the casino to pick up the four from earlier and then made a stop at Station Square which seemed to have the biggest party going on (example-the woman walking around without any pants on despite the sub-freezing temperatues).
Back in the room we did our traditional Christmas gift exchange and then just chatted until sleep finally took over.

Dr_Seuss says:
Pennsylvania Polka - reminds me of Groundhog Day :-D
Posted on: Jan 08, 2010
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Alysia at Grille on 7th
Alysia at Grille on 7th
ice carver at work
ice carver at work
above the stage at the Byham Theat…
above the stage at the Byham Thea…
River City Brass Band warming up
River City Brass Band warming up
Steel Town Fire performer
Steel Town Fire performer
finale of Steel Town Fire
finale of Steel Town Fire
the old year
the old year
fireworks
fireworks
a test shot since the camera was m…
a test shot since the camera was …
in the Byham
in the Byham
in the Byham
in the Byham
at the Byham
at the Byham
gallery crawl
gallery crawl
magnolia
magnolia
base of the finished ice sculpture
base of the finished ice sculpture
taking pictures of each other
taking pictures of each other
starting the countdown
starting the countdown
blurry countdown ball
blurry countdown ball
the new year!
the new year!
waiting in a lobby for our shuttle
waiting in a lobby for our shuttle
Pittsburgh Hotels & Accommodations review
Easy Access to the City
This hotel was a fantastic choice for somewhere to stay for New Year's Eve! The shuttle dropped us off in downtown Pittsburgh and then picked us up a… read entire review
Pittsburgh
photo by: diisha392