More than 500,000 people attend the 4th of July extravaganza every year, flooding the banks of the Allegheny River, Point State Park and the North Shore river-walk for the annual Three Rivers Regatta.
This year should be no different.
The powerboat championships, rock n’ roll and the “Anything That Floats” boat race are returning, but the 2013 Regatta Board has added some new features for this year’s celebration.
For the first time in its 36-year history, the regatta will be adding two Zambelli fireworks shows to end the day’s events on July 3 and July 4. The first 10-minute show, entitled “Wonder-Falls of Light,” will blast off from atop the Wyndham Grand hotel. The EQT “Flashes of Freedom” Fireworks Fantasia will last 24 minutes and is Pittsburgh’s official 4th of July performance. The show annually ranks as one of the top 10 fireworks displays in the nation.
Michael Dongilli, senior vice president of ISM/USA, the event organizer, said keeping the pyrotechnics at the newly renovated Point State Park allows for a close proximity show.
“You say fireworks and people go crazy,” Dongilli said. “We have an opportunity now with the park being totally open to totally kind of refocus. In the last couple years when various parts of the park were closed to us, we were spread out with a footprint. Now, we’re in the park pretty much exclusively. So, this is an idea to take advantage of that space.”
The regatta will also feature 160 tons of sand to be molded and sculpted by world champion sand artist Thomas Koet and the rest of his team from Sandsational. The sand sculptors began laying the ground work on Monday, and it is expected to take 11 days to complete the massive work of sand and water.
Jill Harris, a Sandsational artist refused to reveal what the sculpture will look like, but did offer a hint.
“As typical, we are not telling you what it is,” Harris said, “because we want you to come by and say hello and take a look at the process, but I can tell you that we will once again focus on the history of our great nation.”
The “Marvelous Mutts” will also be in attendance. The high-flying canines will be diving into a 14,000 gallon pool of water, catching flying discs and racing through obstacle courses. The mutts are all adopted from shelters and rescue groups and have been featured on shows such as Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman and ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games.
It wouldn’t be a festival without the sounds to go along with the sights. Jefferson Starship and Jersey Four, a Frankie Valli tribute band will be performing on the OneMain Financial Main Stage along with a variety of tribute bands playing hits from Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles.
The free three-day celebration starts July 2 and continues through July 4. A full schedule of events can be found online.