Pitt-Johnstown Lights Up Holiday Season at Moxham Playground for 4th Year


posted December 06, 2017

Pitt-Johnstown flipped the switch on the holiday season – and on more than 21,000 lights – at the Park Avenue Playground in Johnstown’s Moxham neighborhood on December 5, 2017.

In addition to illuminating the area new one of the university’s previous campus locations, a Frasier Fir was placed beneath the pavilion and student leaders distributed books to the neighborhood children.

This special holiday event is part of the Pitt-Johnstown @ Your Service program, which has devoted more than 5,000 hours since it was launched in 2014.

The decorations will remain in place for the holiday season. The intent of the event is to leave a more enduring impression.

The initiative arose from the University’s strategic plan, which put as a principal goal and focus that Pitt-Johnstown will make progress toward sustaining and enhancing programs that have a positive community impact.

Local media was on hand for the fourth annual light-up event.

WTAJ in Altoona reported:

"I was like wow, that is a lot of lights," Bentley Combs, who went to the event, said.

The sparkle brought more than just holiday cheer to Johnstown families. It's also brought good will into focus.

"We think there is so much good that's happening in every community, so many good people doing good work," Jem Spectar, the President of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, said. "Sometimes that's forgotten with all the noise and so we want to showcase and to celebrate."

The Tribune-Democrat reported:

“The university is part of the community and we see our future, and our present, and our past connected to Johnstown,” Spectar said. “So for us it is a real joy to be with people in the place where the university started as a way to celebrate the season and the spirit of hope and goodwill.”

Hinez Petak, 11, of Moxham, said that each year he looks forward to seeing the Christmas lights.

“They’re wonderful,” Petak said.

In addition to the warm beverages and treats, Pitt-Johnstown students handed out books to children.

“The kids are smiling,” Spectar said. “They’re carrying some gifts and we have some books for the children and the families that are here.

“We know it’s not the best in terms of weather, but I think you can see the energy and the spirit of the people is very upbeat and very positive and that’s what it’s about – the spirit of the season and spreading goodwill to all,” Spectar said.

Mayor Frank Janakovic also attended Tuesday’s holiday event. 

“UPJ coming down to Johnstown shows that they want to have a presence here with us, not just up on the hill,” Janakovic said. “I appreciate that, and I know that Dr. Spectar has worked hard to do that.”

WJAC-TV reported:

"We think the lights represent hope, represent good will and represent the good work that people in the city are doing to make our community a better place," Spectar said.

The annual UPJ Light-Up Night brings together the community to enjoy the display.

"It's really pretty and the tree's right there and everything's just really pretty," said 9-year-old Nalonai Tisinger.

While the kids admired the lights, they also received a gift from UPJ: a new book.

It’s an opportunity to keep everyone's minds active and learning.

"As a university, we're vested in getting the students, future students educated and making sure that they love to read so that they can come along to UPJ afterwards," said Sherri Rae, director of housing.