New-look Regatta ends in a splash of fireworks

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Martha Rial, Post-Gazette
Downtown fireworks are reflected on the Ohio River in this rooftop view from the main tower at PPG Place.
Click photo for larger image.


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The Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta's splashy events were injected with a dose of sweaty history yesterday when the Sons of the American Revolution paraded through Point State Park dressed in wool uniforms, white gloves and black leather boots.

The switch from the traditional August date to the July 4 weekend meant that cigarette boats and Anything that Floats entrants were joined by groups commemorating Independence Day, and by last night's fireworks display. Assembled here for the 114th national congress of the descendants of signers of the Declaration of Independence, the 60-some Sons of the American Revolution laid a wreath at the Fort Pitt Blockhouse.

The decision to combine the two summer events was made because of the city's financial problems.

For 27 years, the regatta had been held in August, and the city always staged a July 4 celebration as well. Both were costly in terms of police and public works expenses. In March, U.S. Events & Marketing and city officials agreed that the Green Tree company would organize the regatta on the Fourth of July this year and next at no cost to the city. U.S. Events & Marketing is paying the cost of staging the event, hiring security and putting on fireworks. The pyrotechnics alone cost about $120,000.

John Heller, Post-Gazette
In a unique mix of events for the Regatta, the Sons of the American Revolution made an appearance at Point State Park dressed in wool uniforms.
Click photo for larger image.

Diane C. Greco, vice president of events for U.S. Events & Marketing, said the spring schedule change meant she and her staff had three months to plan four days of activities and fill a schedule without the usual main attraction of races by Formula One power boats, which were already booked for the weekend.

That change in the lineup, Greco said, provided a chance for more people to participate in events because the power boat races took up four hours each day.

The regatta opened at noon on Friday and gorgeous weather attracted large crowds, especially families, she said.

Over the weekend, regatta participants engaged in a parade of elaborately lighted boats, another parade of 35 cigarette boats and the Anything that Floats Contest. The fastest craft in the last event was a team from the 911th Airlift Wing, which won the race in six minutes, 31 seconds.

Bill Wade, Post-Gazette
There were no Formula One speedboats this weekend at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, but there were still plenty of traditional crowd-pleasers, like Stephanie Woods of Warren as the Statue of Liberty on the "BP Patriots" entry in the Kennywood Park Anything That Floats Race on Saturday.
Click photo for larger image.

Winning the award for "Most Unique Method of Propulsion" was a team from Pittsburgh Technical Institute, which floated downriver in a gray egg carton. A Saturday morning fishing derby, sponsored by the local nonprofit Venture Outdoors, was free to children. Venture Outdoors provided rods and bait for the event.

Three Rivers Rowing Association members competed in yesterday's two dragon boat races, three kayak races and 10 rowing races on the Allegheny River.

A team made up of Alcoa and Allegheny General Hospital employees won the corporate cup, said Michael Lambert, executive director of the Three Rivers Rowing Association.

Those who were stuck in hot clothes in the humid weather had to find other ways to cool off.

Garrett Jackson of Oroville, Calif., and Larry Magerkurth of Indian Wells, Calif., were among the Sons of the American Revolution marching yesterday, and Magerkurth said that after the wreath-laying he planned to hoist an Iron City beer in the air-conditioned confines of the Pittsburgh Hilton, where the group is camped.


Marylynne Pitz can be reached at mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.


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