Light Up Night On The Allegheny

On Friday, November 16, 2012, a massive crowd descended on downtown Pittsburgh for the region's biggest event of the year.  800,000 people (including a sizeable handful of Santas) were expected for this year's Light Up Night and with the beautiful weather that evening, actual attendance was probably more.  Folks crowded into Market Square, PPG Place and Rink, Fifth Avenue Place, One Oxford Center, EQT Plaza, numerous other downtown sites, and the Clemente Bridge Party for an evening of lights, live music, treelightings, and other fun.  It was capped off with "the region's most creative and spectacular theatrical production of Zambelli fireworks and pyrotechnics special effects, including a rainbow and Niagara Falls, all launched from the Warhol Bridge."  The best view of all was had by the dozen Explorers and guests, right on the river under the Clemente Bridge.  We loaded up a whitewater raft and shredder and four kayaks, passed a surprise lighting inspection by the local Coast Guard commander, and launched into the Allegheny just at the start of the 8:45 Point Park show fireworks finale.  We then headed upriver to the edge of the river closure and enjoyed an awesome view of an awesome show, as live music spilled over the bridge deck down to water level.  We had that part of the river to ourselves, shared only with the Coast Guard boat enforcing river closure between the Clemente and Carson bridges.  The show included some floating pyrotechnics - multicolored embers resting for minutes on the river surface - and a shower of white sparks that looked like a waterfall as we gazed upstream.  The reflections of the fireworks in the downtown and North Shore buildings added to the glittering color.

Those of you who changed plans or cancelled at the last minute really missed out!  My learning for next time is to not keep my phone handy in an outside pocket to take calls and messages from last-minute plan-changers, but to leave it in a car (on this trip, it wound up being left on the bottom of the river).  Those of you who missed the announcement should subscribe to explorers-kayaking :-).

Here are a few video clips from Ahmet, on the raft:

Though the video can hardly do it justice, you may be able to gather that the trip was awesome!

-B. Towne