Pity the poor fools who joined the 41 million Americans whom AAA says are traveling this weekend. Right now, they are stuck in traffic at a toll booth or swatting flies at the Scratchy Linen Motel.
Those who stayed home have a nearly endless menu of fun and frolic as Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania celebrate America’s 238 years of independence.
Let’s begin with the weather. Remember winter? Remember scraping frost from your eyeglasses and picking icicles out of your hair? This is what you were yearning for: A three-day weekend of sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and low 80s is in the National Weather Service’s forecast.
The Big Event, of course, is the 37th annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta at the Point, which began Wednesday and culminates today with what we’re assuming will be the largest fireworks display in recorded civilized history at 9:35 p.m.
Today’s schedule features the Anything that Floats contest at 11 a.m.; powerboat racing at 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m.; and evening performances by No Bad JuJu and the Granati Brothers. A 200-foot “beach” with sand, palm trees, kids’ toys and absolutely no hurricane warnings has been created along the Allegheny River steps in Point State Park.
It’s free, and the complete schedule can be found at www.threeriversregatta.net.
People in the city’s Elliott neighborhood will take advantage of the view from the West End-Elliott Overlook with a free event from 5-8 p.m. that includes a petting zoo, games, prizes and crafts for children 12 and younger. Food, refreshments and a DJ are part of the deal, as is an excellent view of the Downtown fireworks.
The Pirates will aim to raise the Jolly Roger in a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies. Game times are 5:05 p.m. today, 4:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:35 p.m. Sunday. Block parties on Federal Street will begin at 3:30 p.m. today and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, if any are still available, are at pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com.
Once again, Pittsburgh will get a taste of Halloween in July with the world’s largest convention for fans of anthropomorphics (you know them as Furries). Anthrocon will bring an estimated 5,600 costumed critters into the David L. Lawrence Convention Center through Sunday. See more at www.anthrocon.org.
Two of the region’s most celebrated Fourth of July parades will step off at 10 a.m. today in Canonsburg, where townsfolk put their lawn chairs out to claim space days in advance on Pike Street, and Brentwood, where Pittsburgh’s own film and stage star Tom Atkins will be grand marshal.
Also in the suburbs, the 40th Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival at Twin Lakes Park in Hempfield and Unity will feature a jam-packed schedule of music and other entertainment, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sunday. Admission is free. Details at www.artsandheritage.com.
Meadows Casino in North Strabane will play host to the Greater Washington County 4th of July Festival with live entertainment, fireworks, food vendors and a children’s area, from noon to dusk today and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m Sunday. The Oak Ridge Boys will perform a ticketed event at 8 p.m. Saturday, and you’ll want to take donations to the Greater Washington County Food Bank. Festival admission except Saturday’s concert is free. More at www.meadowsgaming.com.
On Saturday, Lawrenceville will have a daylong festival in Arsenal Park, with softball and baseball games, children’s races, Citiparks Art Cart, a wrestling show, pony rides, a petting zoo, food vendors and music, starting at 11 a.m. and wrapping up with Zambelli fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. today at South Park Amphitheater and at 8:15 p.m. Sunday at Hartwood Acres.
Fireworks will erupt across the landscape for the next three nights, with most municipal displays scheduled for tonight. Bethel Park’s display will light up at 9:40 p.m. at South Hills Village; Hampton’s fireworks will blast off at 9:30 p.m. at the community center; McKeesport’s event will feature a 7 p.m. concert and fireworks after dark in Renziehausen Park; Mt. Lebanon will light the fuse at 9:30 p.m. in the main park, preceded by a 7:30 p.m. concert.
Coraopolis will wait until 9:15 p.m. Saturday to light up the sky above Letteri Stadium, and Avalon will wrap up the weekend with a Sunday display at dusk at Avalon Community Park. Our news partners have a comprehensive list of fireworks displays at www.kdka.com.
If crowds and explosions aren’t your cup of iced tea, hang up a sign and go fishing. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has declared today a fish-for-free day, allowing residents and nonresidents to fish without purchasing a license.
Not sharing in all the fun will be Pittsburgh public works employees, who will be out picking up the litter that regatta-goers and fireworks watchers leave behind.
Tim McNulty, a spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said city crews plan a “minor clean-up” for tonight.
“The brunt of the work will be on Saturday in Point State Park, Northshore Riverfront Park, Grandview Avenue and other Mount Washington viewing spots and Southside Riverfront Park,” he said.
Regatta organizers said they will provide, as always, cleanup crews to pick up and haul away trash in Point Park State and other areas the event uses, and they plan to reseed and repair grassy areas that may have been worn-down by the crowds.
Jon Schmitz: email@example.com or 412-263-1868. Twitter: @pgtraffic.