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July 4 events Downtown, across region draw thousands

| Friday, July 4, 2014, 2:24 p.m.

An estimated 400,000 people jammed the banks of Pittsburgh's waterfront on Friday for the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, the largest single-day crowd in the event's 37-year history.

Michael Fetchko, president of ISM/USA, the event manager for the three-day regatta, said total attendance of 750,000 easily topped the average total attendance of 600,000.

Those in the crowd said the 70-degree weather and sunshine contributed to a picture perfect Fourth of July, as fireworks exploded over the Point on Friday night.

Cranberry residents John and Bethany Parrish, who were at the regatta on Friday, said the day has a special significance for them.

“We got married on the Fourth of July,” said John Parrish, as he pushed their son, Jack, 2, in a stroller in Point State Park, Downtown.

The regatta was among dozens of holiday events under way across Western Pennsylvania this Independence Day.

In Canonsburg — host to the state's second-largest Fourth of July parade — an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 spectators showed to cheer on 115 organizations and individuals, including those represented on 14 floats, on Pike Street, said Bill Brooks, chairman of the Canonsburg Fourth of July Celebration Committee.

Gov. Tom Corbett and his campaign crew walked along the route as the parade wound down just before lunchtime.

In Twin Lakes Park near Greensburg, specks of red, white and blue dotted the large crowd at the 40th Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival, where many sported patriotic colors.

Artists lined the market pathway, selling their wares. The scents of festival fare, like funnel cakes and blooming onions, floated through the air, and live entertainment could be heard from stages in the park.

“Swarmin' ” Norman Lachimia, 52, sold honey to customers at the Crimson Creek Apiaries booth. He and his wife operate the business in Herminie, and they have sold their products at the festival for three years.

Sisters Donna Reighard, 62, and Jocelyn Scalzott-Lammey, 58, both of Lower Burrell, had a “halcyon experience” at the festival.

“We both work, and we don't get a lot of time to be together,” Scalzott-Lammey said.

The sisters, wearing patriotic outfits, were on a search for “zingers,” or the perfect Christmas gifts for their family members, Reighard said.

In Leetsdale, Jon and Sylvia Radermacher and their daughter Alina, 6, all of Leetsdale, enjoyed the town's annual Fourth of July parade, which included about 50 fire trucks from about 12 fire companies.

“It's loud,” Jon Radermacher said of the blaring horns. “But it's fun.”

Their daughter was set to take home a large helping of candy that firefighters, local politicians, civic groups and classic car owners threw as they snaked down the parade route.

“It's a great parade,” Sylvia Radermacher said, adding the family has attended the event for the last five years.

In Pittsburgh, several people who sat among the crowd on the steps beside the Allegheny River, waiting for the powerboat races to start Friday afternoon, said they decided to come to the regatta to take advantage of the perfect weather.

Darren Dunsey, 47, of Pleasant Hills and his sister-in-law, Aimee Jackson, 38, of Glassport were at the regatta with Dunsey's two sons, 11 and 8, and Jackson's two daughters, 8 and 4, waiting for the delayed powerboat races to start.

Dunsey and Jackson were unsure if the children, who had been at the park since 2 p.m, could wait 4½ hours more for the fireworks.

“It's a thought to stay .... if we can keep them occupied,” Dunsey said.

Natasha Lindstrom and Tory N. Parrish are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Staff writer Bobby Cherry contributed.

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