PITTSTON — Despite some precipitation earlier in the day, Lori Nocito was able to breathe a sigh of relief as the sun shined down Thursday.
“Rain or shine, it’s tomato time in Pittston,” the Tomato Festival co-chair said as opening ceremonies got underway.
“We’ve had festivals where we’ve had no rain, and we’ve had festivals where we’ve had a hurricane,” Nocito added.
There was no hurricane Thursday as hundreds of people flocked to the Lower Tomato Festival Lot to partake in food, beverages and festivities.
The fun starts again today and 5:30 p.m. and runs through Sunday. Events include a parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the famous Tomato Fights at 2 p.m. Saturday, and the Little Miss and Little Mr. Tomato Contest on Sunday morning.
“It’s fabulous to see the crowd starting to come and enjoy the delicious food,” Nocito said last night. “It looks like we’re going to have a great evening and a successful festival.”
Tomato Festival Committee member Jim Deice served as the master of ceremonies and introduced the Rev. Jim Breese of First Baptist Church to say an opening prayer.
After 2017 Tomato Queen Britney Cheskiewicz sang the national anthem, Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo took the microphone and welcomed everyone to the famous annual event. He praised the festival committee for its efforts.
“An event like this, while it lasts over four days, there’s a bunch of months of planning that go into it, but I have to tell you that it really seems easy,” he said. “It’s easy because we have a great committee. Without their hard work all of the other days of the year, this event would not occur.”
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Twp., was invited on stage by Lombardo to say a few words.
“There is no better community in terms of engaging as citizens in supporting their leaders in executing a vision that brings the families, the businesses, and the community organization altogether around one single concept and that is a great quality of life for families in Greater Pittston,” he said. “Thank goodness, and thank God for the people here in Pittston investing in their community and never forgetting it’s about the families of Greater Pittston.”
From there, Lombardo offered some final remarks before the Rev. Breese gave one last prayer to conclude the ceremony.
Deice then said what everyone else was thinking.
“Let the Tomato Festival begin!”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher