Planning has begun for holiday market donations, displays

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Thinking about Christmas in the middle of summer may seem odd, but the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership just can't get enough of jolly old Saint Nicholas.

In fact, the city's inaugural European-style holiday market, which will run from Nov. 24 to Dec. 23 in Market Square, will showcase a different country's Santa each Saturday.

And Santa will get his own home, complete with chimney and an elf-sized door. But visitors can do more than take a photo with him; his house will be the center for holiday donations to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Morgan O'Brien, president and CEO of People's Natural Gas, the titular sponsor of the event, said he hopes it brings people from across the region into the city where they can "enjoy the excitement [of the market], but also help people in the community" through donations to the food bank.

The holiday market, modeled after similar ones in Europe and the United States, will feature European-style booths -- called chalets -- selling handcrafted ornaments, wood carvings, wines and other seasonal trinkets. International, national and local vendors from all heritages were invited to reflect Pittsburgh's diverse population, said Ida D'Errico, event producer for the Downtown Partnership.

One of the vendors, Pat Palko, owner of Little Europe by Palko in Coraopolis, began traveling to Eastern European countries after the Cold War, collecting what she fondly calls "treasures."

She will sell handcrafted plates, hand-painted eggs and Pirkenhammer porcelain at the holiday market. Ms. Palko said most of the items "are for the average household," and will range from $10 to $30.

The traditional European-style market, which will feature performances by dancers, choirs and carolers, will open with a Pittsburgh tradition -- fireworks.

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Emily Dobler: or 412-263-3873.


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