It’s the start of Memorial Day weekend and here’s a look at some events and attractions now open for the season. As a tribute to Rick Sebak, award-winning producer/director for WQED TV-13 Pittsburgh (and PBS), creator of “Things That Aren’t There Any More” and Stuff That’s Gone,” I’m titling these Cool Picks “Things That Are Now Open.”
1) “Kennywood’s open.” No, we don’t mean the local slang usage, we mean the actual amusement park (I’ve inserted Rick Sebak’s occasional narrative laugh here, hee hee). The park’s latest attraction, Black Widow,is a high spinning/swing ride that gives riders a nice vantage point of the park. For roller coaster enthusiasts, there’s Thunderbolt, Racer, Jack Rabbit, Phantom’s Revenge, Exterminator and Sky Rocket. If it’s a hot day and you feel like getting a little wet, check out the Log Jammer, Pittsburg(h) Plunge, and Raging Rapids. Kennywood also features thrill rides, classic rides, dark rides (snuggle up with that special someone, hee hee), Kiddie Land, daily entertainment AND the famous Potato Patch French Fries. 10:30 a.m – 10 p.m. daily. 4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin.
2) Sandcastle’s now open and featuring the new”maximum thrill” Dragon’s Den tube ride, where you slide around the rim for awhile and then enter the belly of the beast for a dark mist filled trip. There’s also Lightning Express speed slide where you zoom down a sixty foot high open water slide. What a concept! A water amusement park, , where you can combine fear of heights with fear of the water (hee hee). A real two-fer. Luckily, Sandcastle has good people who look out for us “regular Joes” and make it a fun and safe experience. If it gets too scary, there’s always their Lazy River leisurely raft ride and Wet Willie’s Water Works and the Tad Pool for kids Mon-Tsunami is the cleverly named, wave pool attraction. Sandcastle is open through Monday for Memorial Day weekend from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. It will then re-open June 1 for the regular summer run. 1000 Sandcastle Dr., Homestead.
3) The 2013 Allegheny Summer Concert Series kicks off with one of Pittsburgh’s most popular bands, The Clarks (7:45 p.m.), playing Hartwood Acres. Most concerts at Hartwood Acres are on Sunday nights and South Park’s (Rick Sebak grew up in nearby Bethel Park and likes to brag that his family was a Liberty tunnel and not a Fort Pitt Tunnel family) concerts are mainly Friday nights. The Clarks are headlining Pyrofest, which is promoted as “America’s largest fireworks festival.” The event includes fireworks displays and competition among several “special effects” companies. Bands in the line-up, Nomad (4 p.m.) and Cello Fury (5:45 p.m.). 200 Hartwood Acres, Hampton and Indiana Townships.
4) Rivers Casino launches their Live on the River free summer concert series at their outdoor amphitheater with rock tribute bands CCR (Green River Band) & The Who (Who Are You). Although the concert is free, Rivers Casino would appreciate it if you spent some money in the casino on eating, drinking and gambling (hee hee). These concerts take place periodically throughout the summer season and are mainly tribute bands. 7 p.m. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore.
5) The Baja Bar and Grill’s outdoor deck and Tiki bar are now open for outdoor dining, drinking and dancing with live bands and DJ’s. Tonight’s band is Dancing Queen, An ABBA tribute band that plays many other disco and funk standards. 8 p.m. 1366 Old Freeport Rd., Fox Chapel.
6) If you’ve been out having fun (or looking for a reason to get out), remember to stop by the local joints for some Rick Sebak favorites: breakfast, diners, hot dogs, farmer’s markets, flea markets, sandwiches and ice cream.