Americans have long celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks, picnics and community gatherings, but ... pogo sticks?
The annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta and Fourth of July festivities will have many returning events and a few new twists this year, including extreme pogo championship Pogopalooza and a visit from several History Channel stars.
The celebration will last July 2-4 and culminate in Friday’s “Flashes of Freedom” Zambelli fireworks display, which will be launched from barges near Point State Park at 9:35pm.
The North American leg of the Xpogo World Championship will feature three days of activities, all taking place within Point State Park, including a free “Learn to Jump” event on Wednesday that is open to anyone who wants to try out their pogo skills.
Regatta spokesperson Michael Dongilli said Pittsburgh will attract pogo competitors from as far away as Russia.
“We’ll have about 30 to 40 of the top extreme pogo athletes in the world coming here to vie for that championship,” said Dongilli.
Despite the many events that will take place, Dongilli thinks the classic Regatta and fireworks display will be the most popular.
“Everybody loves the ‘roar of the shore,’ and they love to see those power boats racing up and down the river. And then, of course, fireworks obviously are a big attraction,” said Dongilli.
Pittsburgh and power boat racing have a history that goes back to the 1980s, when the Three Rivers Regatta held the first power boat race. Dongilli explained that the craft are called “power boats” for a reason.
“These are tunnel boats in what they call the F2 classification, and they will zip up and down that river at well over 100 miles per hour,” said Dongilli.
In addition to watching these boats zoom through the water, visitors to the Point will be able to meet History Channel’s “Swamp People” host Troy Landry and pose for pictures with “Biker Battleground Phoenix” stars John Shope and Paul Yaffee. “Cross-Country Cookout” BBQ expert Trace “The Rib Whisperer” Arnold will be present along with his 55-ft. long portable Ultimate Smoker and Grill.
People can have their own swamp experience on the mechanical alligator that will be set up near the giant smoker, which will throw those who have signed the necessary waivers around just like a mechanical bull would.
All three days will feature live music on the OneMain Financial Main Stage, with a country music Battle of the Bands on Wednesday and former Journey lead singer Steve Augeri performing Thursday at 8pm.
The Sandsational sand-sculpting event will return to the Regatta for its fourth year, to honor the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” which became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The life-size sand sculpture will be constructed over an 11 day period, and visitors to the Point can watch the four artists at work.
Dongilli pointed out that there will be a designated “Kids Zone” with inflatable jungle-gyms, face-painting, and other activities. There will also be a 200 ft. long artificial beach, complete with toy buckets and shovels, available for kids to play on by the Allegheny River Steps in the park.
More than 600,000 people have attended past years’ celebrations, and this year will be about the same. However, Dongilli warned that traffic and parking could be particularly difficult this year.
“We have so many events in addition to the Regatta that are going on at that time,” said Dongilli. “We have Pirates baseball that’s in town, we have several other conventions that are also going on simultaneously…we would just advise people to come down early, get your parking spot early, and certainly use the fringe lots…and either walk over to the park or take the T over.”
Other attractions will include a K9 Crew Frisbee dog show, a BMX stunt display, a sail-boat race, and the build-your-own-boat “Anything that Floats” charity competition. Full descriptions, locations, and times for events and performers can be found on the Regatta website.