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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Ring in 2013 Downtown at First Night Pittsburgh!

Feel like you blinked and it's already the end of 2012? Well, you're not alone.

Ahhh, New Year's Eve. That one night of the year we all stress over. Do you often find yourself humming "should I stay or should I go?" when pondering the party options? Feel like you'd rather be on a sunny beach when the apple drops? Tired of all of the hype about where to go and what to wear?

If one of your resolutions is to make more time for art, then we suggest you kick off 2013 at First Night Pittsburgh.

The arts-centric family-friendly celebration--there are First Night celebrations held around the world in more than 200 cities worldwide--is the only destination you need on your itinerary come December 31st. Boasting more than 100 events in 45 venues throughout Downtown Pittsburgh's vibrant Cultural District, the 'burgh's biggest New Year's Eve bash welcomes revelers of all ages to experience cutting-edge and high-quality local and international dance, music, theater, comedy, magic, visual art and film--along with hands-on activities for children and adults from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust along with presenting sponsor Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the event draws tens of thousands of residents and tourists for a dynamic showcase of recent growth activity taking place throughout Downtown.

What's the scoop?
For a New Year's Rockin' Eve, hop on the T or bus before or after making the party rounds--or better yet, make an entire  night of it--from 6 p.m. to midnight. Though the temps have been unseasonably mild thus far, to those already shivering-- we've got you covered (literally!)--because the majority of First Night events take place indoors.

The revelry begins at 6 p.m. with the Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks Display, followed by a performance by Adam Brock and The Soul Band on the Dollar Bank Stage, which is located at the corner at Seventh St. and Penn Ave.

Wind your way through illuminated Downtown, with more than 100 events and activities taking place in 45 venues throughout the Cultural District. Featured attractions include the First National Bank Family Tent featuring hands-on activities for all ages; live music by House of Soul and the River City Brass Band; and festive performances at the Benedum Center, Byham Theater, O’Reilly Theater, Highmark Auditorium at Fifth Avenue Place, August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and CAPA School Auditorium.

Ready to be a maker? A not-to-miss highlight at First Night are the Decoration Stations conveniently scattered throughout Downtown. Roll up those sleeves and just make it, during this unique opportunity to craft outside and inside, with the city's stunning skyline as your dramatic backdrop. Make a hand-crafted keepsake from the night and design crafty creations for your own holiday decor at home.

Love a parade
Don't miss the always lively First Night Parade, which steps off at 8 p.m. This year, the signature procession is based on the theme of illumination, and will feature Grand Marshals Curt Woottan and everybody's favorite "Pittsburgh Dad"--Chris Preksta--as well as larger than life First Night Puppets, art cars, marching bands, a bicycle parade, and members of the community.

The mind behind the parade's spectacular puppets is visual artist, sculptor and puppetmaker, Cheryl Capezzuti. First Night Pittsburgh parade director, Capezzuti has been busy in her Brighton Heights-based studio--as well as leading free puppet-making workshops Downtown--working to bring the many parade puppets to life and putting the finishing touches on their structures and paint. A Pittsburgh native, Capezzuti has been leading the artistic direction of the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh parade since 1998, and has created puppets for many area community events.

3, 2, 1 ...
Wrap up the last hours of 2012 with a rollicking performance by event headliners, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who will heat up the Highmark Stage--located on Penn Ave. next to Fifth Avenue Place--starting at 10:45 p.m. Marking their 35th anniversary as an active ensemble, the world famous Nola music machine is known for its genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. Credited with revitalizing the brass band genre in New Orleans and around the globe, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has graced stages, parties, clubs, baseball games, and festivals across the US, in 30 countries and on five continents.

Always look up! Make sure to keep your eyes on the Penn Avenue big screen--a giant jumbotron positioned in the middle of the street--for broadcasts of live surprises throughout the night, including the ceremonious ball-raising, countdown and culminating events.

What's new?
New projects for the 2013 installment of First Night include a wide range of multi-sensory experiences and events.

Add this year is the expanded Fire and Ice Plaza featuring Ice Creations and Steel Town Fire, the annual Resolution Sculpture created by Pittsburgh artists Dave Bernabo and Lindsey Clark, the WYEP music station featuring "local band of the year Broken Fences; and the First Night Comedy Club at the Trust’s Cabaret Theater.

Also new to First Night Pittsburgh is the infusion of new light elements technologies into the night's parade. Leading the parade will be five Light Sprites dancing through the streets of Downtown, adding a a spark of New Year’s energy and good karma to the festivities. To illuminate the experience, parade director Cheryl Capezzuti will be assisted on-site by a lighting technician and choreographer.

Grab a button!
The easiest way to take in all of the First Night festivities is to purchase an all-access button ($8 in advance or $10 at the door). There is no charge for children age 5 and under.

First Night buttons are also available at participating Giant Eagle stores, The Box Office at Theater Square or by calling 412-456-6666.

FirstNightPgh.org is mobile-friendly, so be sure to use your smartphone while on-the-go on December 31st!

View of complete schedule of First Night Pittsburgh events.

Read all of the Pop Filter picks.
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