PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A popular festival with a more than three decade tradition is in full swing. The Saturday of the annual Pittston Tomato Festival is always jam-packed with activities and as Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, that was the case again this year despite dealing with less than ideal weather at times.
Red, overripe fruit wasn’t all that rained down Saturday afternoon on Tomato Fights participants in the parking lot of Cooper’s Waterfront. The weather took a turn for the wet and while the pouring rain might make gripping tomatoes challenging, it wasn’t the most difficult part of this food fight according to Ella Loscalzo of Philadelphia. “I think when you’re bending down to get a tomato and you look up and something hits you, you got… sometimes there’s just no way to see it coming at you and you’re hit. It hurts a little,” she said.
For some of these fruit-flinging fighters, it’s a family affair. Kaely Hassey of Philadelphia said, “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun except you get hit in the head. It’s what turns around. Yeah.”
The Hassey cousins were among those who came to do battle and exercise a little strategy. Joseph Hassey of Philadelphia said, “You look for as many full tomatoes as you can and you find somebody. You go after somebody and then you get into a battle with just one person, you know.”
But before the battle begins, there’s work to be done. “We had to cut tomatoes but we came to the festival to watch the run,” said Bella Guasto of Pittston. It didn’t rain on the run or the annual parade — both a fixture of this crowd-pleasing festival which some consider summer’s last hurrah. Syra Reza of Avoca said, “It’s right before school starts so everyone gets together and then you can meet up and talk.”
While some enjoy the parade which showcases local talent and, of course, Miss Pittston Tomato some of the youngest parade goers hold out for something else. One young boy said “Candy” while a girl with him added “Yeah, I like candy.”
It’s a sweet time rain or shine in a city that bills itself as the Tomato Capital of the World. Kristen Klimchak of Duryea said, “It’s just a good time. A lot of good food. A lot of good people. Good music, good bands.”
The 35th annual Pittston Tomato Festival continues Saturday night until 11 before starting up again for the fourth and final day Sunday morning at 10:45.