Holiday

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

For the last two minutes of 2017, thousands of Pittsburghers will watch the glowing New Year’s Eve countdown ball at the top of Penn Avenue Place downtown.

The ball’s symbolic rise only lasts from 11:58 p.m. to midnight, but it takes about six weeks to prepare for the show.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

About 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, huge cardboard boxes of donated toys are scattered across 20,000 square feet of chilly, donated West Mifflin warehouse space.

Allicia Leaper / Crush Photography via AP

A beloved Santa with "naughty" tattooed on one arm and "nice" tattooed on the other has been asked to tone down his typically goofy poses at a suburban Philadelphia mall, leaving some fans miffed.

Scott Diethorne is known for silly poses like hanging kids upside down and flashing his "naughty" or "nice" forearms.

Customers tell Philly.com that when they arrived at the Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County for their annual photos recently, they learned Santa Scott could only take "traditional" Christmas pictures — no tattoos or upside-down poses.

Matt Slocum / AP

There were fewer fatal crashes and more alcohol-related arrests on Pennsylvania's highways over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

State troopers investigated 981 crashes between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26. That's up from 931 during the holiday last year. Four of the crashes were fatal, down from six in 2016.

Police made 629 driving under the influence arrests compared to 610 last year. They say 85 of the 981 crashes were alcohol-related.

Police also issued nearly 16,000 speeding tickets.

Chris Ayers / 90.5 WESA

With a chill in the air and the holidays fast approaching, many people make plans to visit downtown Pittsburgh for Light up Night and other holiday festivities.

One of the highlights of the season is the traditional lighting of the official city Christmas tree outside the City County Building on Grant Street, downtown. But selecting the perfect tree is a long process that begins months earlier, during the warm days of summer.

Keith Srakocic / AP


Allegheny County has adopted a new comprehensive policy regarding the treatment of pregnant inmates—a result of a suit filed against the county alleging cruel and unusual punishment of five women who were placed in solitary confinement for minor infractions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Holiday traditions from around the globe converge at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning inside its Nationality Rooms, a collection of 30 classrooms representing the cultures of various groups that settled in Allegheny County. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Sure, everyone in the family bundles up, squishes into the family car and drives to the one street with the good Christmas lights each year. 

TheUglySweaterShop / Flickr

We know you’re itching to get a few more miles out of your favorite ugly holiday sweater and squeeze in some last-minute holiday shopping. That’s why 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Kovash, Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel Carlson and Josh Raulerson of the PA Environmental Council have you covered.

Markus Spiske / Flickr

We’re back from the holiday! WESA’s Sarah Kovash, Rachel Carlson of Yelp Pittsburgh and Josh Raulerson of the PA Environmental Council took a two-week hiatus to stuff their faces, find the best pizza costumes and relax. So now, we’ve got all the local happenings to get you ready for the holidays … or holidaze, as Rachel puts it.

   We are back! WESA’s Josh and Yelp Pittsburgh’s Rachel are here to tell you everything you need to know about fun things going on in the city. It was a week of relaxation and binge-watching TV, but now it's time to tell you about these cool holiday events. Let the insanity of the season begin.

Let’s start with The Joy of Cookies Tour. It’s cookies, do you really need to know anything else? OK, fine, we will give you a few more details. The shops in the business district of Butler Street are going to feature some homemade cookies! Come down Thursday through Sunday and get your holiday shopping done while enjoying some yummy treats.

It wouldn’t be an American holiday without con artists trying to scam innocent online shoppers.

This holiday season, keep on the lookout for warning signs that might indicate you’re being targeted by a scammer.   

The most prominent scam this year is the fake package delivery email, according to Caitlin Driscoll, public relations director for the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania. These emails claim they contain links to package tracking information, but are really out to break into your computer.

Brook Ward / flickr

The holidays are rapidly approaching, so of course you’ve definitely started your gift shopping, right?

Never you fear, as the shopping season kicks off on Black Friday we’ve put together a list of the best local pop-up markets as part of our New to the ‘Burgh series. From the artisanal to the seasonal, to the brand-spanking-new, here’s a rundown of the most interesting markets gracing the Steel City with their presence over the next few months.

I Made It! Market

Gas prices averaging below $3 per gallon could spur many Americans to travel this for Thanksgiving, which might cause some traffic delays, according to AAA.

Chelsea Pompeani, director of public affairs at AAA east central, says the best way to avoid the increased traffic is to leave a little early.