Pittston, Luzerne County -- The arrival of a showmobile Thursday afternoon was a sign that it was almost showtime for the Greater Pittston Saint Patrick's Parade. The showmobile will serve as a reviewing stand this weekend for the first Saint Patrick's Parade in Pittston since the 1950s. "Oh, I thought it was awesome. We usually go to Scranton or Wilkes-Barre," said Deanna Lash. She can't wait to take her 2-year-old daughter, Ava, to a Saint Patrick's Parade that borders her hometown of Inkerman. "Especially since I had her, I like celebrating all of the little holidays and doing something special."
Something special is what Pittston city leaders promise. The parade plans to feature everything from circus performers to actors to pipe bands. "It's pretty big. It took on a life of its own. When we do things we like to do them big and we're pretty excited about all the different groups. We have nearly 130 groups that are participating," said Pittston Councilman Mike Lombardo.
Irish banners adorn street poles while lines along Main Street and the rest of the parade route are painted green. Pittston-based Joyce Insurance is one of the businesses participating in the parade with a float. "It's very important to be in the community and show that you're a part of it," said Joyce Insurance Vice President Eric Aposhian.
A city that's best known for its Italian heritage and an annual summer tomato festival is ready for the wearing of the green. "For one day we are Irish. We switch," laughed Napoli's Pizza Co-Owner Antonio Costagliola. "We'll be all happy." Napoli's Pizza is one of several restaurants, taverns and retailers that will open early Saturday for the Saint Patrick's Parade festivities.
In a way, the return of the parade in Pittston is more than just about celebrating Irish heritage. It also gives the city an opportunity to showcase many of the positive changes it's made in the downtown in recent years. An old hotel building along Main Street is the latest area being cleared out for new development. The owners of Napoli's Pizza marvel at the center city changes since their business opened in 1999. "If you would have told me that this would be what it is today, I don't think I would have believed you," said Tiffany Costagliola. The city is eager to strut its stuff. "We're hopeful that this might give people a reason to come to downtown Pittston that they might not otherwise have and hopefully see something they like and come back after the parade," said Councilman Lombardo. The Greater Pittston Saint Patrick's Parade steps off Saturday, March 8th, at noon at the fork in the road in South Pittston. It will wind its way through the downtown before ending at Cooper's Waterfront on Kennedy Boulevard.