Fun at First Friday

A woman performing music under a pavilion
Byron Nash and NASH.V.ILL wow’d the crowd.

It’s impossible to go to Uptown Mt. Lebanon on the First Friday of the month and not know that something big is happening.  

 Music blasts from the Clearview Common, and even dog walkers stop by for a few seconds to take in everything that there is to see. The political groups tabling, the young parents getting ice cream with their families, the couples sharing a meal at a local restaurant—once they step foot onto Washington Road, they’re drawn to the action like it’s a magnet. 

I visited the July First Friday event last week. It was slated to start at 7 p.m., but, when I arrived at that time, the area was already packed with families, elderly couples and teenagers looking for a good time. It was a hot summer day, but the weather didn’t bother me—I was instantly drawn in by the vibrant energy that the band, Byron Nash and NASH.V.ILL, created. 

Eric Milliron, economic development and commercial districts manager for the municipality, coordinates the First Friday events. He sees First Fridays as a way for the community to connect with each other and have some fun.  

“While we have been executing First Fridays so long, it’s a tradition that offers surprises,” Milliron said in an email. “It’s a great excuse to catch a new band, run into a long-lost friend or try a restaurant you’ve never experienced. That is what makes First Friday great, it is always an authentic Mt. Lebanon experience.” 

For me, those were some of the main draws for First Friday. I was able to walk to the event from my home on Longridge Drive, and I ran into so many familiar faces within the first few minutes.  

The local businesses were packed, and the pavilion was filled with residents who, like me, wanted a fun night in what’s basically their backyard. 

People sit on the cement sidewalk to watch a musical performance under a pavilion
Uptown Mt. Lebanon is a popular destination on the First Friday of the month each summer.

Byron Nash and NASH.V.ILL kept the energy up for the entire performance. Kids cartwheeled through the grass and adults danced to the music up at the front. Picknickers set up blankets and ate takeout from the surrounding restaurants while catching up with neighbors and watching the performance.  

The band engaged with the audience in between every song, encouraging them to let go for the night and “be silly,” to enjoy the music like nothing else mattered. 

It sounds idyllic, but with the rock n roll goodness they were laying down, nothing else really did matter in that moment. I’m a huge live music fan, so it’s natural that I gravitate towards that aspect of the event. But the sheer talent of the group combined with their upbeat song selections would pull in anyone, even people just passing by. A personal favorite moment of mine was the Tina Turner tribute they did, playing the introduction, first verse and first chorus of Proud Mary and dancing like Turner did whenever she performed the song. 

For Mary Frankenberry, Atlanta Place, this First Friday was enticing because she loves the band “immensely.” She said that they play her type of music, and she loves to dance to the music. She said that she’d love to come uptown for every First Friday if she had the chance. 

Packed with families with young children, young adults enjoying a local night out and adults looking for some good music, Clearview Common provided the perfect venue for the event. It sits at the heart of Uptown Mt. Lebanon, the sun illuminates it perfectly and, of course, it features the fountain, where kids go to play. 

As someone who grew up going to First Fridays with my family, I was happy to see how the event still holds such importance for Mt. Lebanon residents. The event serves as a summer staple in Mt. Lebanon because it’s exciting and fun yet easy to get to. First Fridays serve as a window into all that Mt. Lebanon has to offer. 

Between the nice weather, the good music and the neighborly warmth of the crowd, First Friday is a must-do if you’re a Mt. Lebanon resident, no matter your age or interests.  

If you missed the event on July 7, you can still make the last First Friday of the summer, on Aug. 4, with a performance by Wizdom Wordwide Reggae Band. The performance goes from 7-10 p.m. in Clearview Common.