Flotilla of Chesney fans turn out for the big Fourth of July concert
July 2, 2016 2:58 PM
Boaters and land-bound revelers take in Pittsburgh's skyline from the North Shore Saturday afternoon a few hours before Kenny Chesney's concert at Heinz Field.
Kenny Chesney fans tailgate on the North Shore before tonight's concert at Heinz Field.
Annie Heisler, 21, of Moon, hurls a football over a crowd tailgating on the North Shore before the Kenny Chesney concert tonight at Heinz Field.
Boaters moored along the river on the North Shore.
Boaters invite tonight's main act, Kenny Chesney, to come party with them along the river.
Kenny Chesney will play Heinz Field tonight. Thousands of fans turned out on the North Shore and at the Point in Pittsburgh for the country music star this Fourth of July weekend:
Many of the tailgaters began heading into Heinz Field by 7 p.m. as musicians had already taken the stage.
Crowds cleared from parking lots leaving behind beer cans, boxes, food scraps and other trash. But the remnants of the tailgating did not appear to be as egregious as it has been at Kenny Chesney concerts' past.
Dave Stevens, of McKees Rocks, said he's seen some people drop trash in the parking lot as they walk by the pickup truck where he's having a few drinks before he goes into the concert, but it hasn't been as wild as he thought it would be.
"It's peaceful," he said. "I can't complain."
Guy Costa, Pittsburgh’s operations chief, said about fewer than 40,000 people bought tickets for the concert. He said the crowd was what he expected -- about the size of a Pitt football game.
Mr. Costa said work crews would be going around to clean up after most of the revelers go inside the stadium.
Some of the trash left behind by tailgaters in North Shore parking lots tonight.
Coolers ride for free on pedicabs, says Joseph Reznik, who drives one for Green Gears Pedicabs. At 2 p.m., they were probably the majority of the customers of what Mr. Reznik estimates is a fleet of about 40 pedal-operated taxis out in full force today.
Some are local and some come in from as far as Florida to capitalize on the roaming crowds.
The action will pick up around 4 p.m., he predicted, as it did last year and the time before that when Kenny Chesney's fans took over the North Shore.
Mr. Reznik, who wears a cowboy hat all the time, he assured, expects he'll get up to 35 rides before the night is over -- that's $10 per person anywhere on the North Shore. The Roberto Clemente bridge is extra -- it might not look like a big hill, but when you're tugging 100 pounds of cab and another 350 of concert goers, it's a different story.
Traffic is dying down while portable toilet lines are picking up. A steady stream of cars is still kissing bumpers on the ramp off the parkway to the North Shore, but spaces are still available at parking lots near Heinz Field.
The neighborhood is perfumed with burning charcoal. Corn hole bags are flying, beer pong balls bouncing, flags waving. Music, blasting from hundreds of cars and radios blends with the live show at Y108's Tiki Town on Art Rooney Way.
Police officers -- and there many dotting the corners and parking lots on the North Shore -- say there have been no public safety concerns thus far.
Jase Armstrong of Burrell and Joe Kotvas of Pittsburgh were enjoying the day on the riverwalk along the North Shore.
Mr. Kotvas arrived at 9 a.m. this morning but Mr. Armstrong has been sleeping in a friend's boat since Thursday and won't be leaving the shore until Monday.
"Sunday fun day," Mr. Armstrong said. "You never know what happens. It's like a joker (card)."
It's T-minus 4 hours until doors open at the Kenny Chesney show in Heinz Field tonight.
But the more important marker is 1 p.m., when the parking lots on General Robinson open, sucking up hundreds of cars and trucks circling the neighborhood and lined up along North Shore Drive.
Between the 1,220 parking spots at Gold Lots 1 and 2, there are still nearly 400 available for $50 a pop on a first come first serve basis. The rest were presold and antsy, ticket-holding tailgaters are staring at parking attendants as they wait.
"I love when Kenny Chesney comes to town," said Quicy Pitts, leaning over the railing above the Allegheny River, with at least a dozen cowboy hats as his crown. "He always lets us work. He let's everybody make money."
At 11:30, Mr. Pitts said he’d only sold seven hats, but the day is young. The parking lots haven't opened yet, he said, and the boat crowd seems well supplied.
He and another hat peddler brought 11 dozen and predict all will be gone by the time Mr. Chesney hits his first note.
Down the street, another hat salesman complained it was slow to pick up today just before a potential sale was foiled when his customer assumed the merchandise was a giveaway, in the free spirit of the day.
Staff writers Anya Litvak and Andrew Goldstein contributed.
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