Regatta draws thousands for Fourth

By Andrew Shull

Gabriel Painton has attended the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta for 31 years. This year,… Gabriel Painton has attended the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta for 31 years. This year, the 2005 Pitt graduate came from Lancaster, Pa. with a new generation in tow.

Painton, a Moon native, stood next to a stroller Monday afternoon that carried his 2-year-old son, Xavier.

Although Xavier was too young to stay awake for the fireworks, they went off as scheduled at 9:35 p.m., concluding the Independence Day celebrations.

The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta ran Saturday through Monday and offered a variety of free entertainment for the estimated 500,000 people who attended.

Colleen Pelc, a spokeswoman for the Regatta, said Monday afternoon that city police and Homeland Security estimated that 100,000 people attended Saturday, whereas 150,000 people attended Sunday. The organizations estimated that anywhere between 250,000 and 300,000 people would attend on Monday.

Pelc also confirmed Monday afternoon that all of the weekend’s events went as planned.

Events for the weekend, in addition to the fireworks, included skydivers, competitive eating contests, an “anything that floats” boat race, the Frisbee Dog Show, a circus, a bass-fishing contest and a number of concerts, including one featuring Pitt’s drumline Monday afternoon.

Despite a number of events going on in the vicinity, the boat races brought “life-long Pittsburgher” and 1976 Pitt graduate and North Hills resident Bob Seelman out to the North Shore on the Fourth of July.

Seelman said he was “looking for something to do,” and came out to the Regatta to “sit back, relax and enjoy the holiday.”

Seelman said that he was deciding between the Regatta, Rivers Casino and the sold-out Pirates game just up the river.

He chose the Regatta, in part because “the food is the most expensive thing here.” All of the weekend’s events were free.

The main events for the weekend were the powerboat races, featuring two different kinds of souped-up racing boats, F-2 and F-3 classes.

The F2 racers are capable of hitting speeds of more than 125 miles per hour.

These races brought Charlotte H. Floyd to Pittsburgh all the way from Jacksonville, Fla. She was there to watch her son James Michael “Hurricane” Floyd compete.

“I don’t care about points, I just want to make sure he’s OK,” she said.

Floyd said her son got his nickname after fleeing from his hometown of Savannah, Ga., for the first time in 1999 to get out of the path of Hurricane Floyd.

Other than rain late on Monday, the weather remained clear for most of the events.

The food was as much of a draw as any of the events. Booths lined the sidewalks from the start of Point State Park to the North Shore, filling the air with the aroma of festival food, from pizza to hot dogs and sausages to chicken on a stick.

One vendor, Ohio University student and McKeesport resident Isaiah Burson, said that the overcast skies didn’t cut into his employer’s business during the Regatta.

Burson, who normally works as a life guard, said he spent the weekend selling freshly squeezed lemonade for $5 a cup. He said business on the Fourth was “booming” despite the clouds that covered the sky for most of the day.

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