For This Santa, It’s All About Giving Back

PIT’s Holiday Open House expected to attract more than 1,000 visitors for sixth straight year

By Bob Kerlik

Published November 25, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins


Eight years ago, after Dan Muth beat prostate cancer, he decided he wanted to give back to the community.

And now, for the sixth straight year, Muth will be back as Santa Claus at Pittsburgh International Airport’s annual Holiday Open House.

“I’ve been cancer-free since and I said to my wife, ‘I have to do something to give back,’” Muth, 65, said. “It’s all for the kids. There’s nothing better than to see those kids happy. And being Santa at the airport is special – you get to see kids from all over the world. One year I had kids from six different countries.”

“Being Santa at the airport is special – you get to see kids from all over the world.”        –Dan “Santa” Muth

The airport will open its doors to the public on Saturday, Dec. 7, for the sixth annual open house, an event that has turned into an annual holiday party and attracted more than 1,000 people each year. Held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (you must arrive by 4 p.m.), the airport features shopping and dining specials, live music, children’s entertainment and, of course, Santa.

And no, you don’t have to get on a plane.

But Muth isn’t alone in thinking the airport is special. Many vendors say they hold the date on the calendar each year in anticipation of the Open House.

“I’ve been there every year since it started and I think it’s fabulous,” said Vanessa Weber, 60, who has been making balloon objects, animals and shapes for children for more than two decades. “Honestly, the airport (open house) is one of my favorites. I think it’s because everyone is in such a good mood for the one-day event.”

Attendees are asked to register in advance but walkups will also be accepted.

Balloon artist Vanessa Weber gives balloon Minnie Mouse ears to a young visitor at the Holiday Open House last year. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

The Holiday Open House preceded the airport’s myPITpass program, which launched two years ago and welcomes non-ticketed visitors Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 40,000 visitors have used the myPITpass program since it started, and other airports, including Detroit, New Orleans and Tampa, have started their own programs.

But for Santa, the Holiday Open House is always about the children.

“I usually ask them what they want for Christmas and it’s usually toys or animals,” Muth said. “Kids are remarkable. As they get a little older, I’ve been asked to cure cancer, take people’s canes – it’s amazing what you hear. It’s very moving by the end of the day.”

If you’re going…

Schedule of Events: 

  • Juggler: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Balloon Artist: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Touch-A-Truck: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Merry Modernization: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Gate D77)
  • Face Painting: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins mascot Iceburgh: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Children’s Museum Activity: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Lovebettie: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Photos with Santa: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Caricature Artist: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Airbrush Tattoo Artist: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • The Pirates Pierogies: 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

What you need to know

Please arrive by 4 p.m. No pass for the Airside Terminal will be issued after 4 p.m.

​All attendees (18 and over) will need to bring the following:

  • Printed registration confirmation email
  • Valid, U.S. government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license or passport)
  • Upon arriving at the airport, park in the Short-Term parking garage; you will receive a parking voucher when you check in. Proceed to the myPITpass check-in counter on the Third Floor, Ticketing Level, across from Allegiant, to get your security pass.

When going through the security checkpoint, please observe all federal regulations related to liquids and other prohibited items as if you were flying.

Click here to register.

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