The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta opens Tuesday

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On Monday, 160 tons of sand will be revealed to the public in Point State Park as a 12-foot-tall sculpture for the 36th EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, opening Tuesday and running through the Fourth of July celebration next Thursday.

The Sandsational sand sculptors started sculpting Friday, and the work depicting a scene from American history has been well concealed behind wooden planks.

On Tuesday, pogo-stickers will leap 10 feet into the air as part of XPOGO "Extreme Pogo," using technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University.

"These are Pogo sticks on steroids," said Michael Dongilli, senior vice president for ISM/USA, the Regatta event management firm, at a news conference.

Another new attraction is rescue dogs diving into a 14,000-gallon water tank. Known as the Marvelous Mutts Dock Dog Show, these dogs will leap from a ramp assembled in the park and perform tricks in the air before landing in the water. Mr. Dongilli called them an improvement on past years when dogs simply caught Frisbees.

On Wednesday, there will be a smaller, more intimate, "close proximity" fireworks show called Wonder-Falls of Light, which will be launched from the rooftop of the Wyndham Grand, as well as the standard EQT Flashes of Freedom fireworks show July 4.

"We all know what the word 'regatta' means in Pittsburgh," Regatta board chairman John Bonassi said. "What it means is powerboats and fireworks."

As such, the perennial Powerboat Superleague series returns on Wednesday, featuring the F2 and F3 powerboat racing championships. The regatta is the largest stop for the Powerboat circuit. Time trials begin at 2 p.m. Qualifiers are at 4:30 p.m. and the Championship will be at 7 p.m.

"Heinz Field and PNC Park didn't even exist when we started," said Sherron Winer of the Powerboat Superleague. "We are the people responsible for bringing the fast to fun and free at this event."

Amateur racers also have the opportunity to build their own human-powered vessel and compete in the "Anything That Floats" competition. For the first time, $5,000 in charity prize money will be divided among the top three winners. First place claims $2,500; second place wins $1,500; and the third-place prize is $1,000. Contestants state the charity of their choice before registering. Registration is free.

The headlining band is Jefferson Starship, the 1970s spinoff of Jefferson Airplane led by co-founder Paul Kantner. The support acts include Fleetwood Mac tribute band The Chain and a Frankie Valli impersonator.

Other events include a BMX Bike Stunt Show; Decoldest 3, a hip-hop/R&B trio that will perform all three nights; and parachutists dressed in, what else, red, white and blue as part of the Rivers Casino "Red, White and Blue Fly Into Free Slot Play."

Families with small children can visit the Regatta's Kids Zone, which will feature a 25-by-25-foot inflatable misting tent and an opportunity for kids to paint tiles that will then be assembled into a 6-foot-high, 100-foot-long canvas of a Pittsburgh rivers scene.

For the sixth year, natural gas producer EQT Corp. is the festival's biggest sponsor. The Regatta annually attracts thousands of spectators.

"For a lot of people this is their summer vacation destination," Mr. Dongilli said. "Keeping it free ... that's our goal every year."

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Jacob Axelrad: or 412-263-1634. On Twitter: @jakeaxelrad. First Published June 27, 2013 4:00 AM


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