A Tale of Two Celebrations: New Year's Eve in the 'Burgh and Silvester in Harmony

Both celebrations will offer great family fun.

After the packages are open and the dust settles post-Christmas, it’s time to start planning your New Year’s Eve celebration.

Of course, Pittsburgh has a great "First Night" celebration each year on Dec. 31. Thousands of people gather in the city for a safe, fun way to welcome in the New Year.

Officially called Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2012, there are some great entertainment acts lined up for this year’s event. Things will kick off at 6 p.m., and early visitors can take in the holiday decorations that still are up and glowing around our beautiful city.

First Night buttons allow access to all of the activities slated for New Year’s Eve. The buttons are $8 if purchased in advance and $10 the night of the event. When you buy the buttons, you also are registered for a chance to win some nice prizes, including tickets to upcoming PNC Broadway Across America performances.

There are a wide variety of family-friendly events scheduled for First Night. While they are too numerous to list here, some examples include the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh celebration show, Amber’s Amazing Animal Balloons, activities at the Carnegie Science Center and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, dance lessons at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, ice skating, magic shows, face painting and, of course, fireworks.

There will be an early fireworks display at 6 p.m. for those with young children and another at midnight for the traditional New Year’s Eve welcome.

Numerous concerts are slated for the event, including one of my favorites, Bill Deasey, and Pittsburgh’s own Rusted Root will perform. Check out the schedule of events online to plan your itinerary.


If you're looking for an alternative to the larger celebration, one that is a bit earlier, try the 2011 Harmony Silvester.

for the Day Tripper column. The town's New Year celebration will be earlier in the day to tie in with the German history of the community.

My husband and I went to Silvester last year and celebrated our German heritage. Silvester is the word used for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Germany, and Harmony celebrates the event on German time. The New Year will be welcomed in at 6 p.m., which is midnight in Germany.

The day’s events start with the annual 5K run/walk at 3 p.m. Participants follow a route that takes them around the town and through some lovely surrounding countryside before heading back into the heart of Harmony.

While it's a race, there are many joggers and walkers who just want to have a good time. New this year is the 1-mile Fun Run at 3:45 p.m. for children  11 and younger.

Local shops will offer Silvester specials, and there will be food, beverages and other fun happenings in the town.

A funny German tradition also is carried over to Harmony. In Germany -- and my cousin, Barbel Ganster, who lives in Dobel, Germany, assures me this is true --  is that the short film Dinner for One is shown throughout the day on television.

Oddly enough, it's an English movie that somehow became a German tradition. The film will be shown in Harmony throughout the event. Problems with the film projector last year prevented the movie from being shown, otherwise I'd do a movie review here.

The event will culminate at 6 p.m. with the official ball dropping from a crane. After that there will be a Shively fireworks blast.

It's all great fun and very family friendly. You can take your young children and have them tucked in bed at a reasonable time while still celebrating the New Year.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year from Day Tripper.


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