Two days before the commencement of the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, Jill Harris chiseled away at a 35-foot sand sculpture depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The installation features 27 human figures and is made of 160 tons of sand.
"At this point nobody has any legs or feet and I still don't have the Declaration on the table," said Harris, president of Florida-based Sandsational Sand Sculpting. "Since the Regatta is a Fourth of July event, we wanted to do something that was Americana."
In celebration of its 35th anniversary, the 2012 Regatta has expanded to a 5-day event, including several new attractions and an extra powerboat race, the Superstock P1.
"While they may not go as fast as the tunnel boats that we normally have here — and do have again this year — they're about twice the size. They push a lot of water. They make a lot of noise. People are going to enjoy them," said Michael Dongilli, senior vice president of event management company ISM/USA.
Also new this year is a UPMC-sponsored artificial ice rink that allows real ice skates to glide freely on a synthetic material that isn't actually frozen. "There is no ice here," said director of operations Joe Ryan. "For refreshment we will have a misting tent, 25' by 25', so there will be plenty of ways to cool down."
Another alternative is a dip in the river by the Allegheny River Steps, where sand will stretch for 200 feet along the sidewalk. "With the way the economy is… people didn't really have the chance to leave town and hit their own beach," said Ryan. "Last year we put in 100 feet and it was such a huge hit we put in 200 this year."
The Pittsburgh event is the largest inland Regatta in the United States. Organizers expect between 500,000 and 600,000 people will visit Point State Park over its five days. Music, food, fireworks, and a nightly laser show are also on the schedule.