Celebrating Independence Day in Pittsburgh

By Gwenn Barney

When Kyle Kendrick is feeling patriotic, it shows.

Kendrick, a student at the… When Kyle Kendrick is feeling patriotic, it shows.

Kendrick, a student at the Community College of Allegheny County, has already dyed his hair red and white in anticipation of Independence Day. This week, his girlfriend, Pitt junior Laura Bilski, plans to add the blue to his American ’do.

“I think he’ll get a lot of positive reaction with his hair,” Bilski said. “I think people will be really patriotic. That’s what [the Fourth of July] is all about.”

Kendrick will flaunt his new look at Point State Park for the holiday, where he and Bilski plan to take in the city’s fireworks display. With no official events planned for Independence Day in Oakland, many Pitt students are planning to join the patriotic pair Downtown to celebrate the United States’ birthday.

The fireworks at the Point will be the largest display in Pittsburgh and will begin Sunday at 9:35 p.m., marking the end of EQT Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Regatta. Pittsburgh’s regatta is a three-day festival featuring music, boat racing and stunt plane performances. The event is also the largest inland regatta in the country and one of the top 10 largest Independence Day celebrations in the United States.

Last year’s attendance for the regatta topped 500,000 spectators. Event spokesman Michael Dongilli expects even more people to attend this year’s 33rd annual celebration.

“We’re going to have at least that many and more, because the Pirates are playing the Phillies,” Dongilli said. He expects that baseball fans in Pittsburgh will attend the fireworks display, which follows the popular baseball game.

In addition to its popular fireworks display, the Pittsburgh regatta is best known for its motorboat races. This year, the regatta will include the Powerboat Superleague F-2 North American Championships. The Pittsburgh regatta won a bid, determined by an American Power Boat Association vote, to host the international championships that are likely to thrill any motorboat enthusiast.

The regatta festival has expanded to include entertainment beyond the water in recent years. Also among the popular attractions is an annual performance by the Red Bull Air Force stunt team, TNT Freestyle Motorcross show and “Over the Mountain” Bike Stunt Show starring champion biker Mike Steidley. All events will take place at Point State Park and along the North Shore.

The attractions will be accompanied by live music performances that will take place at three separate stages near the Point. More than 20 bands will grace the festival’s stages over the weekend, also set up at Point State Park and the North Shore.

“Pretty much every genre of music will be represented,” Dongilli said.

Two highly anticipated musical acts include a Beatles tribute band, Beatlemania, which will perform from at 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday at the Rivers Casino Amphitheater, and country artist Craig Morgan, who will perform 8 p.m. Saturday.

Events for this year’s regatta will begin on Friday and will kick off at noon each of the three days.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are also getting into the Fourth of July spirit Downtown and will be hosting an Independence Day event of their own at Heinz Field. The event is free and open to the public. It will include fireworks and a performance by the musical group Povertyneck Hillbillies. Gates to the field open at 3 p.m.

Though there are no official events planned for the Oakland community, some students are opting to have celebrations in the neighborhood. Pitt senior Alex Terihay is preparing for an “old fashioned” Fourth of July celebration at a friend’s home in South Oakland. The party will include a traditional cookout where Terihay will grill hot dogs, hamburgers and veggie-burgers for his vegetarian friends.

“We’re not looking at anything too heavy duty,” Terihay said of his planned ammunition. “It’s just something to do collectively that would be fun.”