Plus, the parks tax is back.
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🎄 The Tree of Lights shines on

Plus, the parks tax is back.

Hello and welcome to Wednesday.

We've got big news: 

We were named one of NewsGuard's ten "Unsung Heroes'' of 2020 (!!), earning a perfect score on credibility and transparency. What's NewsGuard? It's an organization that's staffed by journalists and dedicated to combating misinformation and raising news literacy. 

Ours is one of 10 small sites recognized for being "models in producing content that is truthful, compelling, credible, and transparent." And we're in some great company. (Find the full list here.)

Keep scrolling for more on how you can financially support our brand of credible and transparent local journalism — and a thank you for those that already do. 

But first, the news: The Tree of Lights shines on, election fatigue is real, the parks tax is back, and an exclusive interview with Santa Claus (sort of).

What Pittsburgh is talking about

Perfect balance. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @berksbr

4 things to know today

🗳 It's not just you … County elections officials are also burnt out after this year's presidential election, and a number are leaving their posts as a result. They point to sweeping changes to Pennsylvania’s voting system — namely the break-neck-speed rollout of a no-excuse mail-in voting plan — that left them exhausted and disillusioned. Now, their offices are facing a brain drain while also preparing for another election that's just around the corner. Spotlight PA has the story here

➡️ A search for the suspected shooter of a McKeesport police officer saw the small city upended over the weekend by checkpoints and warrantless searches, leading to questions about the constitutionality of law enforcement's tactics. The officer, Gerasimos Athans, is recovering. The suspected gunman, 22-year-old Koby Lee Francis, was still on the run as of last night. City Paper has more here on the initial search for Francis and the chaos and criticism that ensued.

🎄 The Tree of Lights at Point State Park may not go dark after all. Earlier this month, officials said the iconic holiday display would be retired after 30 years because it violated management practices at the historic site. A public uproar followed and Mayor Bill Peduto even got involved. The tree is now set to return next year with conversations ongoing about its long-term future. Post-Gazette has the latest here.

💰 Forget about recreation — this one's about parks and taxation. Approved by city voters in 2019, the city has held off on implementing a new parks tax because of the pandemic — until now. City councilors voted this week to begin collections next year. The measure would raise property taxes by $50 for every $100,000 a property is valued at, with revenue set aside for parks maintenance and improvements. 90.5 WESA has more on the revival here.

4 things to make you smile 

🎂 A World War II vet and Purple Heart recipient got a parade for his 95th birthday. KDKA-TV has the video.

💧 Pittsburgh's Polar Bear Plunge has been canceled this year because of COVID-19. But that doesn't mean you can't relive years past and be thankful, as always, that you're somewhere warm. Post-Gazette has the story here.

💛 Looking for a way to help Pittsburgh service industry workers this holiday season? Donate to TABLE Magazine's new emergency fund. Here's City Paper with a how-to

🎁 Relive Christmases past with trips to a Santa suit factory in Belle Vernon, a poinsettia greenhouse at West Virginia University, Kaufmann's last Christmas Downtown, and Hartwood Acres' holiday lights. Find them all in a 30-minute documentary here.

➡️ An honor for us — and a mission you can support 

Our small, scrappy startup has been named one of NewsGuard’s Top Ten "Unsung Heroes" of 2020, earning a perfect score and meeting all nine of NewsGuard’s benchmarks for credible and transparent journalism.

NewsGuard is an organization that's dedicated to stopping the spread of misinformation. And that's where you come in. 

You can support that mission by supporting our mission and our brand of credible and transparent local journalism. How? Become a supporting member here and use discount code HALFOFF at checkout for a big discount. (Offer good until Dec. 24.)

Things to do 

Submit your events to our calendar.


🎁 Let the magic of the "Nutcracker" come to you with this virtual production of the Tchaikovsky classic from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre — multiple dates (Online)


📸 See "Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery," a visual arts exhibition showcasing more than 100 Americans with western Pennsylvania connections (Online)


🖼 Get timed tickets to see Contemporary Craft’s inaugural exhibition "The Heart Lives Through the Hands" and its collection of large-scale and highly personal mixed media artworks (Lawrenceville)

Wednesday, December 30

❓ Show off your knowledge of Pittsburgh history with "Pittsburgh Virtual Trivia Night – Winter Edition!" from Heinz History Center (Online)

Thursday, December 31

🎉 Celebrate First Night virtually this year with a live KDKA-TV broadcast starting at 11 p.m. (Online)

One more thing ....

Quick shoutout to the man in full Santa regalia who talked to my daughter and I while stuck behind a garbage truck outside of our house over the weekend. The conversation went a little something like this: 

"Where are the reindeer?" my seven-year-old yelled from the sidewalk, eyeing the man's Nissan Rogue. 

"They're resting up for Thursday," he shouted back without missing a beat. 

She countered, "You know, my friend tells me you aren't real."  

The man paused, lowered his Rudolph mask, and smiled, "Well, I look real to you, don't I?" 

The garbage truck lurched away and the man and his Nissan Rogue followed. He waved goodbye through the SUV's open window and we waved back. My daughter hasn't stopped talking about the encounter — or planning Santa's cookie plate — ever since. 

Like a lot of you, we won't be seeing family this year, at least not in person. And our little one is getting older and, naturally, less childlike with every trip around the sun.

But this two-minute conversation within smelling distance of a Pittsburgh sanitation truck was all the magic we could've asked for this year. Honestly, I think we both needed it. 

Thanks for reading to the bottom. We'll see you back here tomorrow for Christmas Eve. (I hear the reindeer are rested up and raring to go.)  

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