The history of PPG’s Christmas Tree and ice rink

Anna Walnoha / staff writer The ice rink, which was first built in 2001, is a series of fountains in the warmer months of the year.
Anna Walnoha / staff writer
The ice rink, which was first built in 2001, is a series of fountains in the warmer months of the year.

Anna Walnoha | Staff Writer


Throughout the year Market Square is a popular place for Duquesne students to go. The holiday season is an even better reason to go over to the square to participate in the many events and exciting things it has going on.

On most days of the year, Market Square and the PPG plaza look like their normal selves. However, around Nov. 9, the week before their first holiday event Light Up Night, the large green Christmas tree and ice rink are in the PPG Plaza.

The ice rink was built in 2001, but the tree has been there since 1991. Both are sponsored by Highwoods Property. The tree was rebuilt in 2015. It has not always been the original decoration for the plaza.

“Before the tree we have now, the plaza used to decorate with other small decorations or would put real Christmas trees around the obelisk that has been in the plaza since 1984,” said Anita Falce, the PPG Place Events Coordinator. “We wanted a change because the decorations would either get lost or wouldn’t really do anything for the plaza. If the trees weren’t around the obelisk they were put in corners around the building.”

When Highwoods (PPG) decided to put up the tree that is there today, they measured it so that it would fit perfectly around the obelisk. In 2001, the ice rink was built around the tree so that the tree would still be the main attraction.

“It really is an attraction to see. It is different from other ice rinks,” Falce added.

Andrew Trebesh, who works at the Highwoods (PPG) ice rink, said, “it’s real nice to work here, I basically get paid to skate.” This is his eighth season working as staff for the rink working there since 2010 when he was in high school.

“This is one of the main things down here. There are always families and couples here around the tree or taking pictures.” Trebesh commented on the plaza goers. “Fridays and Saturdays are probably the busiest days and we have a lot of events like Skate with Santa and a few others during the season.”

Kate and McKenzie, two Univeristy of Pittsburgh students, were two out of the many skaters that said that they try to come at least once a year. The Pitt students say that they have a closer rink to them but the PPG rink is worth the drive to come and skate.

“There is a lot to do in Market Square, and even with the $14 admission and rental fee it is still worth coming here” Kate said.

The tree is usually taken down mid-January while the ice rink stays up until February or March. Falce added that last year’s attendance of skaters from November to February was 75,200 people. Even if the attendance dies down around January, it is still a great activity to offer to the public in the plaza.

Some might become confused when you tell them that the PPG Plaza is not in connection with Market Square. The two might be a short walk away from one another, but the PPG Plaza is not affiliated with Market Square. The Christmas tree in the ice rink is Highwood’s/PPG’s Tree, while Market Square also has its own Christmas tree — the Season of Lights tree that is sponsored by BNY Mellon.

The Season of Lights tree has spherical metal balls that display white and red lights and it is put up on the first day of Light-Up Night. The lights on Market Square’s tree are coordinated with music and at random points will have light shows. This tree has been shown in the square for the past nine years.

Some of the buildings in the square also have lights on their sides that correspond with the tree and its light show. The lights from the building will light up and be a part of the light show.

No matter whether you go to the square or the plaza, you will be greeted with holiday cheer and beautiful decorations. Both trees are spectacular in their own ways: one is 65 feet tall and the other has light shows. No one could go wrong with either, both will get you into the Christmas spirit.