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Ferris wheel to highlight Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Regatta

| Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 9:23 p.m.
James Knox | Trib Total Media
Tommy 'Typhoon' Nuttall demonstrates the Jetovator on the Ohio River just behind the Rivers Casino during a press conference announcing the line up for this year's EQT Three Rivers Regatta over the Fourth of July.
James Knox | Trib Total Media
Stephen Vitale, CEO of Pyrotechnico speaks during a press conference at the Rivers Casino announcing the line up for this year's EQT Three Rivers Regatta over the Fourth of July.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Formula One boat driver Mark Major does a couple of laps on the Ohio River just behind the Rivers Casino during a press conference announcing the line up for the 2015 EQT Three Rivers Regatta.
James Knox | Trib Total Media
Formula One boat driver Mark Major does a couple of laps on the Ohio River

A giant Ferris wheel illuminated with LED lights will crown the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, the city's annual Independence Day weekend celebration.

Details of the July 3 to 5 festival — which has the motto “You gotta regatta” — were announced at a May 12 news conference at the Rivers Casino Amphitheater on the North Shore.

“It's really something to get excited about,” Linda Robertson, EQT's manager of media relations, told reporters. “From our perspective, no other event better celebrates the river culture.

“We promise there will be something for everyone,” she said.

The promoters did not reveal where the Wheel of Lights, a nine-story Ferris wheel with a festive musical light show, will be located in Downtown, although regatta activities usually center in Point State Park and the North Shore. You can ride for a small fee, although the regatta organizers are seeking corporate sponsors to allow for free rides.

People will be able to see the Ferris wheel — named after Pittsburgher George Ferris, who invented the amusement-park ride — from many points around the city, said Darcy Kucenic, senior events coordinator for Peony Entertainment, a Pittsburgh-based company that is managing the regatta for the first time.

“It's our big punctuating event this year,” Kucenic said about the Ferris wheel. It is what people will be talking about and making a point of seeing this year at the regatta, she said.

Country star Chris Young will headline a series of free concerts July 5, which also will include North of Mason-Dixon and the Air Force National Heritage Band. All genres will be represented on five stages, including the biggest venue — One Main Financial Stage in Point State Park.

Formula One Power Boats, which have been absent from the regatta for a few years, will be back. For the past five years, the regatta has hosted the F-2 North American Championships on the Allegheny River.

And many other regatta favorites will be returning, including the annual Anything That Floats event, the Sandsational sand sculpture, and, of course, the July 4 “Flashes of Freedom” choreographed fireworks show beginning at 9:30 p.m. New Castle, Lawrence County-based Pyrotecnico — of which Peony Entertainment is a subsidiary — is producing the regatta fireworks show for the fourth time. His business does some 2,600 shows annually, but especially enjoys the big events in Pittsburgh, said Stephen Vitale, president and chief executive officer of Pyrotecnico.


Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

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