From egg hunts and toy exhibits to parades and maple sugaring hikes, March is full of family-friendly events to help you welcome springtime in Pittsburgh.
Play at the new Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s exhibit at the History Center
The Senator John Heinz History Center opens a playful exhibit on March 4th called Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Remember Gumby, Slinkys and Mr. Potato Head? Those favorites, along with nearly 500 other memorable toys, will be on display in a huge 8,000-square-foot exhibit that will explore the stories behind the toys and place them in a cultural and historical context. Certainly educational but also fun, the exhibit will feature plenty of hands-on areas including a staircase where visitors can race Slinkys, interactive living rooms from each decade, all sorts of vintage arcade games (think Donkey Kong and Frogger) plus a garage space with bowling pins, hula hoops and Nerf footballs.
Each Saturday from March 12th to May 28th, families can enjoy Toys Takeover, where the Great Hall at the History Center will become a giant game area with larger-than-life versions of favorites like Jenga, Connect Four and chess. Entrance to the exhibit and Toys Takeover programs are included with regular museum admission.
Celebrate the beginning of a new season at the Spring Festival of the Egg
As we anticipate springtime here in Pittsburgh, the new Spring Festival of the Egg asks the question: how do others around the world welcome springtime? On March 5th from 12 to 4 p.m., join the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh as they present a free afternoon of family-friendly crafts and hands-on activities to help answer that question.
Traditions from more than 10 countries will be explored through egg decorating, palm weaving, flower making, origami paper folding and more. An ethnic pastry sale and Old World Egg Display will take place alongside the activities inside Posvar Hall next to the Hillman Library in Oakland.
Sing-a-long to “Let It Go” at Disney On Ice presents Frozen
Frozen fans are sure to love Disney On Ice presents Frozen show at the CONSOL Energy Center from March 10th to 13th. This show promises to bring to life the award-winning tale of royal sisters, Anna and Elsa, who discover that love conquers fear. Expect to hear all your favorite songs from the movie (the audience is encouraged to sing-a-long!).
The show has been thoughtfully designed to create an immersive experience for the audience with a set that will have families feeling like they’re right with Elsa as she climbs the snowy mountain to build her ice castle. Her magic will seem real through special light and sound effects. Tickets start at $35 with a choice of nine performances at various times throughout the day.
Wave your Shamrock Shammy at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a Pittsburgh tradition that heralds spring, regularly bringing out tens of thousands of spectators to line the streets downtown. With nearly 23,000 participants and 200 marching units (including 18 bands!), Pittsburgh’s parade is considered the 2nd largest in the U.S. Highlights this year include Star Wars characters, the West Virginia University Fife and Drum Band, the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Forces Marching Band, the Wells Fargo Stage Coach, the Roller Derby Brats (an all-girl, kids’ roller derby team) and, of course, all the Pittsburgh sports mascots.
The parade route remains the same as last year, beginning at 10 a.m. on Liberty Ave. at the Greyhound Bus Station, moving to Grant St., then to Blvd. of the Allies and finishing up near Stanwix St. Filled with traditional favorites like Irish pipe and drum groups, festive floats and dancers, Irish dogs and ponies, Irish community organizations and supporters—the parade is an experience not-to-miss.
Also back this year is the family-friendly Parade Fest in Market Square! From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., families can enjoy face painting, Irish dance lessons and street performances and Irish music and dance shows by groups like Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance and the Pittsburgh Ceili Club. New this year: the Shamrock Shammy for spectators to wave along the parade route. A portion of the sales will benefit The Irish Society for Education & Charity, the nonprofit parent of the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Parade Committee.
Learn how maple syrup is made (and taste it, too!) at Maple Madness
Experience the 250-year history and science of maple sugaring through a fascinating and educational hike and delicious pancake breakfast—with real maple syrup, of course! Sponsored by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, this annual Maple Madness event will be held on March 12th at Succop Nature Park in Butler and March 19th at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in Fox Chapel.
After enjoying hot pancakes with sausage and fruit, a knowledgeable guide will escort you to the hiking trail which winds through the trees and back through time as costumed volunteers talk about how Native Americans used hot rocks to warm maple sap and how pioneers boiled maple sap to make syrup. Lastly, visitors get a glimpse into the modern day process of using plastic tubing and good ol’ gravity to collect sap more efficiently which then gets put into an evaporator to produce syrup. After the hike, children can participate in hands-on activities like using sticks to move “hot” rocks, boring a hole into a maple tree and carrying buckets of sap on their shoulders like pioneer children did. Registration is required. Reservations can be made in 30 minute time slots between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cost is $10 for non-members/$6 for members and free for children ages 2 and under.
Enjoy contemporary ballet at the Reflections Children’s Performance
On March 19th, Texture Contemporary Ballet will present a children’s performance of its Reflections mainstage show at the New Hazlett Theater. Made up of classically trained professional ballet dancers, Texture Contemporary Ballet takes traditional notions of the dance form and presents them in innovative ways.
The children’s performance is an ideal way to introduce kids to high-energy, modern ballet. First, admission is affordable at only $10 per family. Second, the performance is a kid-friendly one-hour length which includes an interactive portion where kids are invited onstage to learn dance moves from the show. While designed for kids ages 0 to 10, everyone is welcome.
Meet Daniel Tiger at Be My Neighbor Day
The Be My Neighbor Day event last year was a huge success, with more than 1,400 people attending. This year’s festivity welcomes even larger crowds looking for a fun way to help in the community and be a good neighbor. Inspired by Fred Rogers and Daniel Tiger, this free family-friendly event will offer a variety of activity stations where even the youngest children can help. Opportunities include making greeting cards for home-bound senior citizens, decorating fabric squares that will be made into a quilt for veterans and, like last year, assembling snack bags for 6th grade students in a local mentoring program who will be taking state tests soon. Children can also plant sunflowers to share with friends, meet first responders in the community and get a photo with Daniel Tiger himself!
The Be My Neighbor Day event will be held on March 19th at four locations in the Pittsburgh area, including: Baierl Family YMCA in Sewickley, Homewood Brushton YMCA in Pittsburgh, Sampson Family YMCA in Murrysville and Western Area YMCA in Coraopolis. Daniel Tiger will be at each location; check the event website for specific meet and greet times. Families are encouraged to bring diapers and wipes to be donated to families in need.