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Pittsburgh History Series

Happy Holidays in PittsburghA Warm and Wacky Look at Winter!

The winter holidays happen everywhere, but in the area around Pittsburgh, there are places and attractions, traditions and events that make the season special in a wonderfully local way. In a new program titled Happy Holidays in Pittsburgh, WQED producer Rick Sebak celebrates some of the things that people do in our area to help brighten the long nights, to observe ancient customs and holy days, and to bring in the new year with a big splash.

"We shot everything in the show last year between Light Up Night and Chinese New Year," says Rick, "and now we've edited all the footage down into a fast-moving and somewhat wacky package."

There are segments about several holidays, including Hanukah, Ramadan, Christmas and Kwanzaa, but there are also stories about the lights at Hartwood Acres, shopping in the Strip, the big trees in the Hall of Architecture at Carnegie Museum of Art, the Allegheny West House Tour, and many more.

"I hope it's a show with lots of surprises," Rick adds, "because I know we all were surprised many times by the wide range of local celebrations and personal traditions that we found." And no matter where you go at this time of year, you are going to see lots of houses decorated with candles and greens and all sorts of strings of lights.

"Actually, the story we did about people and their decorated houses was really fun," says Rick. "We just drove around until we saw a display we liked, then I would go up and ring the doorbell, explain what we were doing, and ask if the chief decorator would come out and talk with us. Everybody said yes."

As in any Sebak documentary, there is food. The Scandinavian Society of Pittsburgh assembles an incredible smorgasbord for its annual Christmas party. A Muslim family in Brookline makes Pakistani specialties for dinner after sunset during Ramadan. There are potato latkes at all the Hanukkah parties. On Christmas Eve, we visit one family in Squirrel Hill that makes the traditional Italian feast of the seven fishes.

"We don't pretend that we have covered everything about the holidays in Pittsburgh," says Rick. "It's a wonderful time of year, and we wanted to celebrate just some of the things that caught our attention and fit into our shooting schedule. We actually hope that this program will be a huge success so that we can do a follow-up or two in years to come."

Happy Holidays in Pittsburgh is Rick's fifteenth program in the unusual and multiple-award-winning Pittsburgh History Series, his twenty-third major documentary for WQED since he came to work here in 1987. This will be the first Pittsburgh History Series production available on DVD as well as VHS.

Production of Happy Holidays in Pittsburgh was made possible by the Buhl Foundation, with additional support from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Tippins Foundation, and by contributions from members of WQED.

Rick Sebak produced, wrote and narrated the program; Kevin Conrad edited it; Buck Brinson, Mark Knobil, Bob Lubomski, Paul Ruggieri and Steve Willing ran the camera; Minette Seate was Associate Producer; Matt Conrad was Associate Editor; and Patty Walker was Project Director.

Rick's programs are available on home video as part of WQED's Pittsburgh Home Video Collection, available by calling 1-800-274-1307 or by visiting Shop WQED.

Holiday Suggestions

Comment on the show or suggest some holiday sights for next time!


• Back to Pittsburgh History Series index.
Shop WQED for many of Rick's programs!
• Meet writer/producer/ narrator Rick Sebak.
• Comments? Send 'em to Rick.

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