Since 2005, residents have watched as many drastic renovations and the introduction of new businesses and signature events throughout the city of Pittston have allowed their community to flourish, with no plans to slow progress. After an entire year of meetings, planning, and fundraisers on behalf of city officials and administration, the Irish are coming to Pittston for the first time in 50 years.
On Saturday, March 8, Pittston will host the Greater Pittston St. Patrick’s Parade, consisting of 151 unique participants, such as five pipe and drum bands; local civic groups and businesses; elected officials; dance groups, including Irish step dancers; sports organizations; Eclectic Circus performers and band; and a traveling performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” The parade follows the same route of the annual Tomato Festival Parade.
“It’s taken over my life,” joked Pittston City Special Events Coordinator Sarah Donahue of the rapidly approaching event, “but we’re all extremely excited for all of the work we’ve put into this to pay off.”
The idea came to city officials and administration out of the progressive desire to build on the number of signature events the town offers. The highly successful Tomato Festival is Pittston’s largest event, and city officials and administrators hope that the St. Patrick’s Parade will come in at a close second.
“I’m excited to check it out,” said lifelong Pittston resident Will Thomas, 23. “The Tomato Festival is awesome, and when March rolls around, everyone looks forward to Scranton’s parade day. It’s pretty cool to have something like that going on in your own backyard.”
Local restaurants and bars, such as Tomato Bar & Bistro, Red Mill Tavern, Gramercy Restaurant, San Cataldo Society, Knights of Columbus Hall, Cooper’s Seafood Waterfront, and Palazzo 53, are opening their doors early, some as early as 7 a.m., to offer specials and festive dishes, such as green eggs and ham, shepherd’s pie, and ham and cabbage, for the duration of the event.
Aside from bars and restaurants, local artists and vendors will also gather, offering an assortment of merchandise and custom crafts readily available for purchase throughout the route of the parade.
“These local businesses, restaurants, bars, and artists put their faith in Pittston by coming here, and in return, we’re able to see them benefit during events like this by being recognized,” said Donahue of the parade’s participants. “It’s nice to be able to organize events where everybody wins.”
The parade will begin at 11:30 a.m. following a mass of Thanksgiving at 9:15 a.m. hosted by Monsignor John Bendik of St. John the Evangelist Church. It will start at the fork on South Main Street, march all the way up Main Street, come back down Kennedy Boulevard, and end near Quinn’s Market.
How to get to the parade
Bridges will be closed to traffic just before parade start time, around 11:30 a.m., as will the parade route. The lineup area in South Pittston will be closed around 10:30 a.m.
West Side residents are urged to park and walk across one of the two city bridges or use the Eighth Street Bridge.
If you’re coming from Wilkes-Barre, use River Street and take a right at Tony’s Pizza onto Welsh Street and keep going until you hit Main Street. Take a right, then take your first left on Chestnut Street (Shandra’s Pizza) and that will put you on the Pittston Bypass. Take your first left, which is Tedrick Street/Columbus Boulevard or a left onto William Street, which is at the second light.
There is a parking lot across from St. John the Evangelist Church on William Street. There is also a parking lot behind the YMCA on Kennedy Boulevard, but that street will close as parade time nears. An alternate lot is the Upper Tomato Festival lot, adjacent to the Fire House on Spring Street.