The first official day of spring was March 20 but the season never fully arrives until the West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival.
The 43rd celebration of the blossoms was held last weekend on the riverbank in West Pittston.
Ameriana Walker, 6, of West Pittston, was crowned Little Miss Cherry Blossom and helped reign over the activities along with grand marshal Roy Speece. West Pittston Mayor Tony Denisco was honored as the borough’s Outstanding Citizen.
Gina Malsky served as master of ceremonies for the Little Miss contest on Saturday. On Sunday, locals had the opportunity to perform at the West Pittston Cherry Blossom’s Got Talent show.
The Got Talent Show was a new feature to showcase local abilities. Participants were separated into four age groups, 7 years old and under, 8-to-10-year-olds, 11-to-13-year-olds, and 14-year-olds and older.
The chilly weather and biting wind did not deter hundreds of audience members, who filled the seats in front of the bandstand. Many zippered up their coats and pulled up their collars, refusing to let the wind and rain pull them away from the performances.
After two hours and 20 performances, the judges announced the winner of each age group: Ashlyn Loyack, 7, for her ballet to “From this Moment” by Shania Twain; Carmella Karcutskie, 9, for her rendition of “What a Feeling” by Irene Cara; Tori Viccica, 12, and Albert Hite, 13, for their duet of John Legend’s song “All of Me”; and Cassidy Jones, 17, for her performance of “At Last,” originally sung by Etta James.
Winners were awarded a $25 cash prize.
The two-day celebration saw a slight drop in attendance this year, said Toni Valenti, event treasurer. At the start of the day, Valenti said, they were down by about $1,000 from last year but hoped Sunday’s turn-out would make up the difference.
“The weather was better last year,” Valenti said.
All money raised from the festival is reinvested into the community, Valenti said.