New shows added to Pittsburgh regatta lineup

Annual three-day event hopes to make a splash with extreme Pogo, talented canines

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Rescue dogs diving into a 14,000-gallon water tank. A 1970s psychedelic rock group. Pogo sticks launching you 10 feet in the air.

New attractions have been added to the 36th annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, the free three-day celebration held at Point State Park from July 2 to 4.

"These are Pogo sticks on steroids," said Michael Dongilli, senior vice president for ISM/USA, the regatta event management firm, at a news conference Downtown Tuesday. He added that most of the Pogo technology was developed locally at Carnegie Mellon University.

Organizers talk about upcoming Three Rivers Regatta

Sponsors and organizers of the Three Rivers Regatta teased some of the highlights of the Fourth of July celebration, including fireworks, a sand sculpture and musical acts. (Video by Kelly Tunney; 6/18/2013)

He said the Marvelous Mutts Dock Dog Show is an improvement on past years when dogs simply caught Frisbees. In this year's show, dogs will leap from a ramp assembled in the park and perform tricks in the air before landing in the water.

At the Wyndham Grand, Downtown, news conference, with regatta organizers and sponsors, regatta board chairman John Bonassi said there would be a smaller, more intimate fireworks show on July 3, Wonder-Falls of Light as well as the EQT Flashes of Freedom fireworks show July 4.

"We all know what the word 'regatta' means in Pittsburgh," Mr. Bonassi told the crowd. "What it means is powerboats and fireworks."

As such, the perennial Powerboat Superleague series returns, featuring the F2 and F3 powerboat racing championships.

"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 have the opportunity to build their own boat 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. Contestants state the charity of their choice before registering, which is free, said Ron Wahl, regatta spokesman.

Starting Wednesday, members of the sand-sculpting crew Sandsational will bring in more than 160 tons of sand from Beaver County to be molded into a 12-foot-tall sculpture.

Sculpting begins Friday and will conclude in time for the regatta's opening. Avoiding any specifics, Sandsational sculptor Jill Harris said the sculpture will depict a classic scene from U.S. history and will be on display for the duration of the celebration.

An array of tribute bands, including a Frankie Valli impersonator, will be headlined by Jefferson Starship on July 3, with original band co-founder Paul Kantner.

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: jaxelrad@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1634 or Twitter: @jakeaxelrad.


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