Penn Hills Holiday Lights festival a delight to the community - Penn Hills Progress

Penn Hills Holiday Lights festival a delight to the community

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | 6:55 AM

The annual Holiday Lights Festival at the Penn Hills Municipal Complex offered participants light-heartedness during a heavy season of budget talks and political cartoons.

“It was great. Wonderful. We had a fun time,” said Shaheeda Wilks, of Penn Hills. She brought her son, Kobe Fisher, to the event filled with Christmas caroling, Santa greeting, tree lighting and hip hop dancing to remixed holiday tunes.

Wilks has lived in Penn Hills for around 20 years, but the Dec. 5 event was the first she has attended.

“I never knew about it,” she said. “But he got a flier in his backpack, so we decided to come out,” she said of her son who fiddled with his balloon sword – another perk from the night.

The festival was the second event held at the municipality’s new building on Duff Road, after years of hosting it at the Frankstown Road building that was recently sold.

Somewhere between 200 and 300 people showed for the festival, which was emceed by Deputy Mayor Catherine Sapp. Her wardrobe matched her voice’s enthusiasm: she wore red rain boots, a bright green sweater and a droopy, red elf hat. And the countdown she led to usher in the lighting of the tree could have awoken Santa Claus himself from a restful sleep on Christmas morning.

At one point, she got a group of children to join her on the sidewalk to take turns singing parts of “Silent Night” into the microphone.

Santa was ushered in by a Penn Hills fire truck and a sea of cheers from children who offered hugs and high-fives. Inside, Santa posed for photos with them as their parents caught up with friends as they enjoyed refreshments from the Rotary Club of Penn Hills.

Kimberly Carson, of East Pittsburgh, said she came to see what Penn Hills is all about before moving her business – Monroeville-based Painting with a Twist – to a storefront at the Penn Hills Shopping Center. She expects that to happen early next year.

“This town, it’s great. It’s glowing and getting more vibrant,” she said. “Where else can you go to an event like this and get free food and not wait forever to see Santa?”