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It's fun on water, land at EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta

| Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 9:12 p.m.
Isabella Olson, 7, of Moon Township, plays in the makeshift beach along the bike path at Point State Park on the first day of the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Isabella Olson, 7, of Moon Township, plays in the makeshift beach along the bike path at Point State Park on the first day of the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.

They say ya gotta, right? Well, no one has to twist our arms. What better way to spend the Fourth of July weekend than down at Point State Park or on our three rivers at the annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta? There's sure to be plenty of water-themed frivolity and land-based activities — from fast boats and barely floating boats to sand sculptures, music acts, fireworks and, oh, that giant Ferris wheel!

Here's a quick peek.

The Boats

First and foremost, the regatta's focus remains on the city's waterways.

“With all these activities, we want to invite the public to enjoy the rivers and what they have to offer,” says Darcy Kucenic, the regatta's senior events coordinator. “They really are the gems of our region.”

This year, Formula One Power Boats will return for the first time in seven years.

July 4 will feature a short test session, with time trials and a pair of 10-lap qualifying heats. The finals will happen July 5 on the Allegheny River.

“Spectators will see 120 mph speeds with 4 to 5 G's in the corners on the roughest course of the season,” says Jose Mendana Jr., president of the U.S. Formula 1 Powerboat Tour. “People will experience a very fan-friendly group of teams ... with opportunities to meet and greet the drivers and to sit in the boats themselves.”

The Jet Ski Stunt Shows, a freestyle event, features the Flyboard and a Jetovator, devices that fly through the air and dive underwater. The Jetovator and Flyboard can reach heights of 30 feet via a hydro-hose attached to the watercraft.

The Lighted Boat Parade returns for the first time in more than a decade July 3. Boaters are encouraged to decorate their vessels in lights and line up along the Monongahela side of the Point. The parade will move around the Point down the Allegheny.

And there's always fun with buoyancy at the regatta's Anything That Floats race. This year, teams can win up to $1,500 in prize money for charity. The race will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. July 5.

The best viewing areas for water events, Kucenic says, are along the Allegheny River shores of Point State Park and the North Shore.

The Wheel

The biggest — in appeal and size — attraction at this year's regatta is sure to be the Wheel of Lights giant gondola Ferris wheel that will be stationed in the field in Point State Park across the street from the Wyndam Grand hotel.

The 90-foot-tall wheel with 16 multi-passenger carriages uses LED lighting to display 12 patterns on its flat sides. While most regatta events are free, a ride on the Ferris wheel will be $5. It will be open from noon to 10 p.m. each day.

The original Ferris wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. on the North Side. It made its debut in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The Music

Though you won't hear much above the roar of powerboat engines at the regatta, you may hear some music. The OneMain Financial Stage (on the Downtown side of the tunnel at Point State Park) will be where the most of the tunes can be heard.

Platinum-selling country singer Brett Eldredge (“Mean to Me,” “Beat of the Music”) will headline the July 3 lineup, which also includes The Hobbs Sisters and local high-energy country act Saddle Up.

July 4 has something super-patriotic, of course, with the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band headlining the night, with other performances by the Barbershop Harmony Society, local rockers The Delaneys, the world-traveling Pittsburgh-rockers Boulevard of the Allies and Bon Journey.

July 5 will feature headliner Chris Young (“Lonely Eyes”), with other performance from the Christian Beck Band, local country-rockers NoMAD and modern-country outfit Stampede.

Performances scheduled on the Barge Stage will be moved onto the OneMain Financial Stage in the park. Those include Beauty Slap — a large, electric-funk-brass band, and one of the more unique bands on the city's music scene. On July 5, a big oldies show will feature local legend Johnny Angel & the Halos.

The History

History is impossible to escape. The regatta provides three days of power boats, concerts and enough food to fill the garrison at Fort Pitt. But that military outpost will bring a touch of the Colonial past to the event. After all, the Fort Pitt Museum and the Blockhouse are sharing the Point State Park grounds with the regatta.

Activities at the fort will fill the day July 4, starting at 11 a.m. with the singing of the national anthem and the ceremonial raising of a 13-star, 36-foot American flag with re-enactors and Girl Scouts. A cannon boom will greet every hour, offering some time-keeping as well as background noise. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the regatta.

Regattagoers can tour the past on the History Crawl, done in conjunction with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Maps at the information booth at the entrance of the park will present a self-paced tour of historical spots around the regatta area, including stops at the monuments to Mister Rogers and World War II on the North Shore.

The Kids' Stuff

Since the Fourth is usually pretty hot, the regatta has a spot where kids can cool down and have fun. The Cool Off Kids Zone, supported by the Colcom Foundation, will be on the fountain side of the Portal Bridge, with various activities offered each day.

The Carnegie Science Center will provide several water-themed activities and demonstrations. Kids can learn about the fish in Pittsburgh's rivers, then make fish prints using a technique called gyotaku. They also can make water-inspired bracelets, find out how many pennies it takes to sink a boat and take in the Fire & Ice Show, which teaches about combustion and the fire triangle.

The Kohl's Hard Head Helmet Program will have folks from Children's Hospital giving helmet education and fittings, along with free helmets while supplies last for kids up to age 18.

The beach will return on the banks of the Allegheny with AAA's Travel to the Beach Kids Korner, where the young ones can dig and make sandcastles.

There will be patriotic face painting for $5 to $20 per design, and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's Big Games will feature giant versions of popular games like Jenga.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh will help kids create a mini floatable through the Anything That Floats: Kids Edition. Using recycled materials, kids can create small boats and test their craft's buoyancy.

The Extras

The regatta will let the dogs out at Point State Park with the Muttley Crew Flying Dogs Frisbee show. Several shows daily will feature seven acrobatic routines from our four-legged friends. The dogs, many of whom have been rescued from animal shelters, range from 12-pound Jack Russell terriers to 50-pound Collie mixes.

Florida-based Sandsational Sand Sculpting returns for a fifth-straight year to make another spectacular artwork out of 150 tons of sand. This year's theme will feature steelworkers of Pittsburgh. Viewers have been watching it take shape since June 20.

New Castle-based fireworks company Pyrotecnico will put on its third fireworks show in the past seven years, beginning at 9:36 p.m. July 4. (Precise enough for you?) Attendees are encouraged to arrive early and bring necessary seating. The internationally renowned company has put on shows for pro sports teams and musical tours by Nicki Minaj and Justin Timberlake.

The nomadic indie crafts marketplace I Made It! will offer a range of novel creations July 3. Products include jewelry, pottery, artfully designed homemade cookies, T-shirts and handbags made by AJWcreations, Djoi Designs, Laurel's Leather Crafting, Lex Covato Art, Mama Made Them Toys, OriginalGlassWorx and Steel City Cotton Works.

Founded in 2007, the I Made It! Market will be open from noon to 10 p.m. July 3 on the Clemente Bridge.

EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta schedule

DAILY

Ongoing, starting at noon daily

• “Wheel of Lights” Ferris Wheel, Point State Park

• Cool Off Kids Zone, Point State Park

• Vintage Power Boat Exhibit, Rivers Casino

• Sandsational Sand Sculpting, Point State Park

• History Crawl, Point State Park

July 3

Noon-10 p.m.: I Made It! Market, Roberto Clemente Bridge

1:30-2 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

2:30-3 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

4-5:30 p.m.: The Hobbs Sisters, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

4:30-5 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

5:30-6 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

6-7 p.m.: Saddle Up, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

8 p.m.: Brett Eldredge, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

8:30-9 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

9:30 p.m.: Lighted Boat Parade, Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers

july 4

11 a.m.: Fourth at the Fort, Fort Pitt Museum, Point State Park

Noon-12:30 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Barbershop Harmony Society, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

Noon-2:30 p.m.: Formula One Power Boat Race Trials, Allegheny River

2-2:30 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

2-3:30 p.m.: The Delaneys, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

2:30-3 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

2:30-9:30 p.m.: Coors Light Heinz Field 4th of July Celebration, Heinz Field, North Shore

3:30-4 p.m.: Monster Energy BMX Team, North Shore Riverwalk

4-4:30 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

4-5:30 p.m.: Boulevard of the Allies, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

4:30-5 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

5:30-6 p.m.: Monster Energy BMX Team, North Shore Riverwalk

6-7:30 p.m.: Bon Journey, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

7-7:30 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

7:30-8 p.m.: Monster Energy BMX Team, North Shore Riverwalk

8 p.m.: U.S. Air Force National Heritage Band, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

9:36 p.m.: Flashes of Freedom Fireworks, Point State Park

10-11 p.m.: FoundSound Presents: A Beauty Slap 4th of July, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

july 5

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Anything That Floats, Allegheny River

Noon-8 p.m.: Sunday Oldies Concert Series, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

1:30-2 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

2-2:30 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

2-3:30 p.m.: NOMaD, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

3-4 p.m.: Johnny Angel & the Halos, Barge Stage, Allegheny River

4-4:30 p.m.: Jet Ski Stunt Show, Allegheny River

4-5:30 p.m.: Stampede, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

5-7 p.m.: Formula One Power Boat Race Finals, Allegheny River

5:30-6 p.m.: Muttley Crew Flying Dogs, Point State Park

6-7:30 p.m.: The Christian Beck Band, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

8 p.m.: Chris Young, OneMain Financial Stage, Point State Park

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