Pittsburgh 2014 First Night

Achievement: #17. First Night

Welcome, readers, to 101 Achievements, the 2014 edition (the year where we hopefully actually make it to 101 Achievements)! As you can see on the left sidebar, we’ve got a fully-revamped 2014 list (with the things we didn’t complete in 2013 coming back for another round), and this year, we’re getting right into the fun with a few events planned for January. First up? Our review of Pittsburgh’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night.

First Night 2014
We start each First Night off with dinner at Sonoma Grille downtown, and we usually go with the several-course NYE special Prix-fixe menu. The meal kicks off with a glass of bubbly to toast the new year!

The menu is always a real treat, and this year was no exception. Here are a few of our favorite things from the meal:

First Night 2014
Round #2: baby beet salad with roasted walnuts, honey & chevre, and golden raisins. Just the perfect size for a mid-round appetizer, and so very, very fresh.

First Night 2014
Entree: black cod with celery root puree, haricot verts, baby carrots, crab hollandaise, and a sweet soy cassis reduction. This was incredible! I have no clue how the chef managed to get the outside of the cod so crispy and yet light, while the inside stayed perfectly soft and flaky. The flavors complemented each other so well, and I’m glad I listened to our favorite server Barb’s recommendation to try this!

First Night 2014
Dessert: butterscotch cheesecake with pear & apricot compote, candied pecans, and toffee sauce. Great end to the meal!

Dinner this year was a little bittersweet – each year when we’ve gone to Sonoma Grille for New Year’s Eve, Barb has been our server, and she’s really the best. But this NYE was her last, and she’ll be retiring in 2014. I’m sure we’ll love the other servers as well, but we’ll definitely miss Barb, who has become part of our NYE tradition!

First Night 2014
After dinner, we were out into the cold (a pleasant 23 degrees by the end of the night) and off to the first stop of First Night 2014: the Ice Labyrinth.

First Night 2014
For the 20th Anniversary of Pittsburgh’s First Night, Richard of Ice Creations crafted a massive ice labyrinth in the Fire & Ice Plaza area of the event. We saw him creating some smaller-scale ice sculptures at Kennywood’s Winter Lights festival, so we were really pumped for the ice labyrinth!

First Night 2014
Many smaller ice sculptures were on display as well, like this totally awesome 20th Anniversary sculpture (as a girl who can barely make ice cubes in a tray turn out the right shape, I’m impressed!).

First Night 2014
And no ‘dead end’ in the labyrinth was a wasted trip: they were photo-ops waiting to happen. (Seriously, can I get the Throne of Bears installed in my back yard this winter? Love it!)

First Night 2014
The ice labyrinth was a wonderful place to plot your next evil-mastermind scheme.

First Night 2014
And you could watch the fire dancers while you were waiting in line to get through the labyrinth!

First Night 2014
We got through the ice labyrinth just in time to see the annual First Night parade! I love this parade SO MUCH every year, but I find myself wondering if maybe it’s only meant to be understood after eating some mushrooms. It’s just so very weird, every single year.

First Night 2014
Yep, that’s Jimi Hendrix on a piece of toast, being driven by a car decorated as a toaster. The people in the band accompanying the Jimi Hendrix toast were wearing egg hats.

First Night 2014
And here’s a character from my nightmares.

First Night 2014
AND WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE? FLOWER PEOPLE? WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT I CAN’T EVEN.

First Night 2014
And of course, since we *are* Pittsburgh, and we *are* home to Anthrocon, there were indeed furries in the parade! Here are my furry fox brethren moments after we shared a ‘let’s pool our resources and fight the next person who asks us what does the fox say’ understanding.

First Night 2014
Sometime during the parade, I came into ownership of a light-up sword. This would prove to be useful as the night progressed.

You see, we failed to get any tickets for the ticketed events, thinking there would be enough outdoor events going on to keep us busy throughout the night. But for some reason, after the ice labyrinth and the parade, we were left with a lot of time and not a whole lot to do.

Which is why I started stabbing things.

First Night 2014
Like these violin girls!

First Night 2014
And this Christmas ornament!

First Night 2014
AND THIS DAMN EYEBALL!

First Night 2014
I took a quick break to do some arts and crafts in the ‘paint circles’ exhibit.

First Night 2014
AND THEN I CHOPPED OFF THIS TEQUILA WORM’S HEAD MICHONNE-STYLE!!!!!!

Eventually, once I’d stabbed all that there was to stab in the Cultural District, we decided to nip into a bar for a glass of wine and some warming up. And then before we knew it, it was time for the main event, Charles Bradley performing on Penn Avenue!

First Night 2014
Hadn’t heard Charles Bradley much before First Night, but he was a lot of fun. He and his band played a good mix of funk dance music and some nice slow-jams for dancing and warming up with your loved ones.

First Night 2014
Also good music for stabbing!

First Night 2014
At midnight, the ball went up and the fireworks went off! 2014 was here!!

First Night 2014
We’d have to say that 2014 is off to a pretty good start… but I’m hanging onto my light-up sword just in case!

2 Comments

Filed under #17, #17-14, fireworks, first night, ice sculptures, outside, pittsburgh, winter

2 Responses to Pittsburgh 2014 First Night

  1. woubbie

    Sounds like fun! I’ll have to attend one of these years.

    (That giant ornament reminded me that I didn’t display my bowling ball ornament this year! Must work on a stand for it!)

  2. conte

    Love the ice maze and the Jimmie Hendrix on toast parade float! Who needs the Rose Parade?!

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