PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a four day festival that’s just getting underway Thursday evening. When they show up, they’ll discover a few new looks for an event steeped in tradition as Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains.
Just hours before the 35th annual Pittston Tomato Festival kicked off, more than 100 vendors were in set-up mode. But the hard work started long before this. Simone Daniel, a waitress with The Garden Mediterranean Cafe said, “We’ve been working all week rolling extra grape leaves. Two weeks almost. Getting in early leaving late.” It’s the second year the West Pittston business is taking part in the festival.
“32 years we’re here,” said vendor Tony Thomas. Tony Thomas’ Deli & Catering, considered a festival staple, decided to bring something new this year: a lemonade stand. “We’ve always had lemonade but this is our colorful tent so I brought it.”
It’s not all that’s new. High above festival grounds, a crew installed new lighting Thursday afternoon which is only fitting given Pittston’s recent streetscape project. New period lighting is just part of the improvements along South Main Street. The gateway to the city is what Mayor Michael Lombardo considers more walkable now. “You’ll see a smooth surface that you can walk on more easily now. There won’t be these strange transitions between one sidewalk and the next.” Mr. Thomas added, “The streetscape is gorgeous. They’re doing a heck of a job.”
A walk along festival grounds reveals something that wasn’t around last summer. There’s one tomato that’s new that’s part of this festival. It’s actually a rock painted by kids who attend the monthly Art Walk in Pittston that is part of the Artrocks Garden that popped up a few months ago.
The Tomato Festival gives this city a chance to shine.”I’ve always thought that these festivals and the events that we have downtown are sort of like a mousetrap. They’re a really good opportunity to get people here and hopefully people who haven’t been here before will see something they like,” said Mayor Lombardo.
The Pittston Tomato Festival continues daily through Sunday.