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Ideas sought for new holiday light display at Pittsburgh's Point

This year was the last for the Tree of Lights, which has adorned the Point at the holidays since 1988.
Duquesne Light Company
This year was the last for the Tree of Lights, which has adorned the Point at the holidays since 1988.

For more than three decades, Duquesne Light’s Tree of Lights has adorned the Point at the holidays. That tradition has ended, but there’s more to the story. The utility is asking the public for ideas about what will replace the multi-colored, 80-foot-tall tree.

A competition called "Reimagining the Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights" will launch Feb. 3, the company announced Thursday. It includes five prizes totaling $15,000.

“DLC is committed to helping the city of Pittsburgh celebrate the holidays through a new and more modern light display, while honoring the richness of our city’s beloved traditions,” said Christine Waller, Duquesne Light’s vice president of communications, environmental, social and governance, and corporate giving, in a statement. “With the public’s help, we hope to replace the current display with something that will uphold the tradition our region has come to love over the years.”

Duquesne Light first erected the Tree of Lights in 1988. It was originally set to retire the towering display last year, but the company changed its mind after some 10,000 citizens petitioned to keep it.

However, this past holiday really was it for the twinkling installation. The utility and Point State Park agreed a different display would be more in keeping with the historic nature of the park, the former site of colonial settlements Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt.

“While we understand the beacon the tree has become to the region, we see this as a great opportunity to build a new tradition with the support of the public,” said Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which operates Point State Park, in a statement. “We are excited to see new designs to help celebrate the holidays and remind people of the importance of the holidays in Pittsburgh, the same way the tree did for more than 30 years.”

Duquesne Light said in a statement it intends to award a contract for the construction and implementation of the new design for the 2022 holiday season.

The challenge is a collaboration with crowd-sourcing platform HeroX. Details are here.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: