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Three Rivers Regatta brings boats, fireworks, high-flying fun

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:14 p.m.

All the favorites will be back this year for the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, from a beach along the river to high-flying BMX bikes and Frisbee dogs, and of course fireworks to celebrate the nation's birthday. But there's also a few new events to check out. Sailboats are back after a several year absence and champion pogo jumpers will be attempting to set records. The action gets started on July 2 and goes full steam for three days at Point State Park and on the Allegheny River.


XPOGO's second stop on the Pogopalooza 2014 World Tour is July 2 to 4 at the Three Rivers Regatta.

Daily from 3 to 7 p.m., attendees can visit the XPOGO Free Family Jump Area at Point State Park where they can learn to pogo, test out the classic and extreme sticks with tips from the pros.

Events will include a chance to be a part of history as the athletes attempt no less than 15 individual world records, including most back flips in a row, most bounces in a minute, highest flip and more, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. July 2.

On July 3, athletes will progress through a series of events in qualifying rounds for the XPOGO World Championship Show. Big air qualifiers start at 4 p.m. High jump qualifiers are at 7 p.m.

July 4 is world title championship day with big air finals at 4 p.m., best trick finals at 6 p.m., and high jump finals at the Allegheny Steps Riverwalk at 7:30 p.m.


Joe Kirk is bringing sailing back to the regatta after 10 years and wants to bring it back to Pittsburgh's rivers on a regular basis.

The vice chairman of the regatta organized a sailing event in the regatta in 2004. This year he has put together the Pitt Sailing Club Invitational set of races. It will feature races by teams from Pitt, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Akron University in Ohio, Carnegie Mellon University and any other schools that want to show up.

The races are in Club Flying Juniors, the two-person boat used in interscholastic sailing.

Kirk is the coordinator of this event and also is chairman of the Point of Pittsburgh Sailing League, a group attempting to organize high-school and college sailing competitions at the Point.

He hopes the regatta races show the worth of the events. Former County Executive Jim Roddey, himself a sailor, will be announcing the races, Kirk says, and he thinks the events will be fun for sailors “because they are not used to racing before crowds.”

The races will be 3 to 6 p.m. July 3 on the Allegheny River near the Point.


The largest venue on the powerboat racing circuit — the iconic confluence of Pittsburgh's three rivers and the regatta — will host the F-2 North American Championships for the fifth consecutive year along the Allegheny River.

No venue matches the backdrop, course ferocity and fan appreciation of Pittsburgh, as spectators traditionally number in the tens of thousands to annually watch Powerboat Superleague's top drivers ravage the river and scream down the shoreline. The league is a member of and sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association.

F-2 tunnel boats can explode from 0 to 100 miles per hour in less than four seconds with the potential for top speeds of 130 mph on the straightaways. The river is sometimes choppy and can be dangerous at times.

Time trials are 2 p.m. July 4; qualifiers, 4:30 p.m. July 4, and championship, 7 p.m. July 4.


Modified jet skis square off in one frenetic, fast and furious race to the finish. These high performance machines are designed to handle the force and fury faced in rough water competition along the Allegheny River. The event is presented by HydroDrag. The action takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 3.


An annual tradition, Zambelli Fireworks has put together another explosive “Flashes of Freedom” show to close out the Regatta on July 4.

This year's spectacle will open with rock band Rare Earth's, “I Just Want to Celebrate,” and will be set to a soundtrack of other classic rock hits mixed with popular patriotic songs. Guests also will hear soundbytes from famous U.S. figures like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Neil Armstrong.

George Zambelli, chairman of the Zambelli Fireworks board, says this year's show will have a lot of movement. It will feature new effects like sweeper shells that turn dark to light as they travel across the sky and go-getters that spin off quickly and zip in random directions.

One of the most unique characteristics of this year's display is that the choreography will be entirely computer-operated by Jared Zambelli, his son.

George Zambelli says smiley faces will light up the sky when the show closes with Pharrell Williams' 2014 hit, “Happy.” He calls the yearly show a “labor of love” for the entire Zambelli family.

“Zambelli Fireworks loves Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh loves Zambelli Fireworks,” he says.

The show starts at 9:35 p.m. at the Golden Triangle on the Allegheny River.


The Three Rivers Regatta offers numerous concerts, all of which are free — and if you like live music, you're bound to find something to see in this diverse lineup.

Headlining the music is Steve Augeri, a former lead singer of the legendary rock band Journey. He sang with Journey from 1998 to 2006, during which he recorded three albums. Augeri will perform at 8 p.m. July 3 on the OneMain Financial Main Stage in Point State Park, Downtown. Opening for Augeri are Taylor Watson at 3 p.m., Melanie Meriney at 4:30 p.m., and Kenny Blake at 6:15 p.m.

The July 4 concert on the OneMain stage features the Granati Brothers at 8 p.m., with openers the Badboxes at 4:30 p.m., and The Delaneys at 6:15 p.m.

Across the river, at the Rivers Casino Amphitheater on the North Shore, Beatlemania Magic, a Beatles tribute band, will perform at 7 p.m. July 3, and No Bad JuJu will play at 7 p.m. July 4.


No matter how wacky or weird it is, if you can get it to float on water, you can enter your creation in the popular Anything That Floats contest, sponsored by Trib Total Media. There's $5,000 in prize money available to winners. The money goes to a charity of each winner's choice. The top three winners get $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000. There also are trophies for the Best Decorated and Fastest Sinker craft. But as the rules state, “Each group must be capable of handling all the blame for losing or sinking.”

“Anything that Floats” begins at 11 a.m. July 4 in the Allegheny River.


Jill Harris isn't surprised that so many people are fascinated with sand sculpture.

“Most everybody can relate to building a sandcastle at least once in their life,” she says. “They get frustrated when it dries out quickly and they don't understand why it falls down. Then they see us doing something really big and making a beautiful piece of art out of it.”

By the regatta's opening day, Harris and her Florida-based Sandsational Sand Sculpting company will have transformed 160 tons of sand into a 200th anniversary tribute to Francis Scott Key's writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” inspired by the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry.

The team, which was to begin working June 21, features world champion sculptor Thomas Koet.

“We really, really enjoy doing this project,” says Harris. The public is encouraged to watch the sculptors at work, just outside of the Fort Pitt Museum, near the underpass in Point State Park. This is the fourth year the company has been at the Three Rivers Regatta.

“Every piece we do is unique. It's the first and only time we will make this sculpture,” she says. “We are always excited to come here. The regatta just lets us loose to do what we want and they know we won't disappoint them. What a perfect way over the 4th of July holiday to showcase American history and art in a large scale in a very friendly atmosphere.”


The History Channel's Cross Country Cookout is ready for big events, such as the Three Rivers Regatta where it will be located at the Point State Park city-side lawn.

Its Ultimate Smoker and Grill is an 80-foot trailer which can cook a ton of meat at a time. The hickory-smoked and jalapeno cheddar cheese sausage is provided by Trace “The Rib Whisperer” Arnold of 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House in Frisco, Texas

Other attractons include Wrestle a Gator, where like “Swamp People,” you can ride and tag a gator, in this case a mechanical one; and Claw Game, the classic arcade game with each player getting one chance to “go pickin'” for one of the History Channel prizes.

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