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North Hills Magazine

A Holiday Gift to the North Hills

Written by John Fries


It's the most fun you can have in one evening, during the most wonderful time of the year. And, it's become a North Hills tradition and a sure sigh that the holidays are just days away.

The tradition continues on Friday, December 1, as UPMC Passavant, La Roche College, and the Sisters of Divine Providence again join together to present the fifth annual Holiday Festival of Lights. The event, which the three neighboring institutions affectionately refer to as a "holiday gift to the community," is one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday happenings in the North Hills, taking place on all three adjoining campuses on Babcock Boulevard in McCandless Township.

"It's amazing how this festival has grown over the past few years," said Ralph DeStefano, Passavant Hospital Foundation chairman, who conceived and introduced the first Festival of Lights in 1995, "and it's wonderful that we have the opportunity to join with our neighbors to give our community this annual holiday present, one that all families can enjoy," said DeStefano.

Last year, more than 10,000 people packed the festival, which featured a wide variety of entertainment, food, and the arrival of Santa Claus. This year's event, which is shaping up as the biggest and most exciting festival to date, begins with a noon tree lighting and carol sing in the La Roche College Square, continues with the 6 p.m. lighting of the Lights of Love on the Passavant campus, and includes an 8:30 p.m. fireworks display by Zambelli Internationale.

"This is a wonderful event that provides an opportunity for all of us to come together, and to share the spirit of the season with our families, friends, and neighbors," said Joe Long, president of the Passavant Hospital Foundation. Long is co-chairman of this year's festival with Thomas Prickett, UPMC Passavant vice president of administration and executive director of the hospital's physician-hospital organization.

"The college is thrilled to once again be part of the Festival of Lights with our neighbors, UPMC Passavant and the Sisters of Divine Providence," said Monsignor William A Kerr, president of La Roche College. "The event has become an excellent holiday gathering place for North Hills residents, both young and old, and a great way to start the holiday season," said Monsignor Kerr.

According to Sister Maria Fest, director of stewardship and resources for the Sisters of Divine Providence, "We look forward to the festival. It gives us an opportunity to meet many of our North Hills neighbors. It's a great community-building event," said Sister Fest.

From an entertainment standpoint, there will, as always be something for everyone. New to the festival this year will be a live, "unplugged" performance of acapella holiday songs by Johnny Angel and the Halos, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Joe Negri and Mr. McFeeley return with their show, as well as the CLO Mini Stars, North Star Kids, and Ronald McDonald. Also, a number of strolling entertainers and costumed mascots will be interacting with the public.




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Copyright © 2003 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.
Please direct all correspondence to JohnFries@aol.com.