Outside of Pittsburgh, the phrase, ‘you gotta Regatta!’ may not mean much, but here in the city, it’s an important three-word statement that means it’s officially summer in the ‘Burgh.
The Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta is now held over the 4th of July weekend. Formerly, it had its very own weekend in the beginning of August, making two separate fireworks-centered celebrations in the city, but budget cuts a few years ago brought the two events into one. We also lost a few of the good acts along the way (who remembers the lumberjacks and laser shows of the late-90s Regattas?), but the event is still a great chance for city residents to come down to the Point and enjoy summer, music, boat races, and fireworks.
Unless you’re like me, and somehow get stuck working Regatta weekend every year.
Every year, that is, until this year.
I was so excited to finally be able to spend the day down at the Point, instead of just sneaking in at the last minute and catching the fireworks. So, after spoiling Lucy for a significant amount of time during the early afternoon, we packed up our official Regatta snack, our blanket, and our camera and headed down to the festivities.
We also saw Jack and Rocket catch frisbees, but our personal favorite was Boris, the junkyard dog. There was a little intro about Boris being so tough and terrifying in the junkyard, and then when they brought him out, he was just the cutest, smiley mutt. I can’t lie, he reminded us a bit of our little Lucy with his grin!
The weather was a little threatening from time to time on Regatta day, and when we looked back and saw the sky looking like this, we decided it was time to get out of the humidity and have a cool drink.
No sooner did we order and sit down at Scenes, the tiny bar area in the newly-renamed Wyndham (formerly the Hilton), than people began rushing in, soaking wet and holding various items over their heads. This is what we think about rain on the Fourth of July.
But one round later, and the skies cleared once again. We walked back down to Point State Park, this time in hopes of catching the much-talked-about sand sculpture. On the way, we ran into the University of Pittsburgh drumline, performing in the tunnel (and still taught by fellow Avonworth alum Brad Root!).
We kind of thought it was interesting that this was being advertised as the ‘biggest sand sculpture in Pittsburgh history.’ I know we’ve got a lot of rivers and bridges, but it’s not exactly the kind of place where there is, well, sand. I imagine Lake Erie has more sand sculptures than us!
We wandered a little farther down, closer to the river, and we found a boat race about to begin! This was crazy – somehow, despite all of my trips to the Regatta (even as a performer, back in my competitive dancer days), I had never seen an actual boat race!
The boats can go up to 120 miles an hour. That’s just insane to me. Since they were all going so fast in such a small area (they started just past Heinz Field and turned around under the Ft. Duquesne Bridge), it was really hard to tell who was winning, but according to the announcer, it was quite the matchup.
We next made our way down to the actual Point itself. There is a lovely fountain at the end of the Point, but sadly, it’s been out of commission due to needing repairs the last few years. (We’ve finally received word that the repairs will be beginning soon, but it looks like no functioning fountain until next summer regardless.)
But the skies were starting to look threatening again, so rather than put our blanket down in our anticipated location here at the Point, we decided to make a phone call and some alternate arrangements. My parents were planning to watch the fireworks from a coworker’s rooftop in the South Side, where we watched them last year, so we told them we would walk to Station Square and meet up with them to go to the South Side.
Well, the rain started falling just as we were passing Papa J’s on the Boulevard of the Allies. This seemed like too much of a coincidence to ignore: we were starving, having denied ourselves funnel cake and hot dogs in an effort to take in all of the Regatta sights before the rain ruined our plans, and here we were, next to a bar and restaurant just before the downpour came.
So we went in and sat at the bar and ordered some incredible food, and some awesome drinks as well. I had a Naughty Schoolgirl Martini, and the bartender informed me that house rules dictate that you must wear pigtails while enjoying this drink. Who was I to argue?
Here’s the view of our beautiful city from our South Side fireworks-watching spot. That huge barge in front of the city is where they set the fireworks off from. It’s just one of the many perks of being a city of rivers!
And then, at precisely 9:34 on the Alcoa clock, the real show of the night began. Later, Pittsburghers all around town debated whether these new fireworks stood up to the previous years’ Zambelli shows (the city went with a new company, Pyrotecnico), but one thing is for sure: when it comes to fireworks, there’s no city like Pittsburgh.
And yeah, maybe we spent more time ducking indoors to dodge the rain than we have on previous July 4ths, and maybe the sand sculpture wasn’t the most spectacular thing (umm, who makes a sand sculpture in Pittsburgh that doesn’t feature Mario Lemieux’s face??), but I’m sure glad we got the chance to spend the day down by the river with our fellow Yinzers. 🙂