‘Wilkes-Barre is a melting pot’: Parade, festival put diversity on display

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]
Former Wilkes-Barre NAACP Chapter President and Multicultural Parade grand marshal Ron Felton waves to the crowd along South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Luzerne County Court President Judge Richard Hughes, left, walks along the parade route with Wilkes-Barre City Administrator Ted Wampole and Mayor Tony George on Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Miss Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Outstanding Teen 2018 Britney Cheskiewicz waves as she rides along the parade route during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Members of the Lithuanian Women’s Club of Wyoming Valley wave their flags during the Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
People along the parade route take photos of two Jamaican stilt walkers as they approach Public Square in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Talal Alanazi, center, joins students from King’s College during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
The Panamanian delegation shows its cultural pride as members walk along the parade route. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Members of the international community carry national flags as they turn onto Public Square during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Times Leader Publisher Mike Murray, left, and Executive Editor Joe Soprano carry a banner for the Times Leader Media Group during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival. The Times Leader was the official media sponsor of the event. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Matthew Price, 8, of Kingston, and his mom, Mary Harris, study the flag of Malaysia and over 100 others on display in Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square during the Multicultural Parade & Festival on Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dancers from the Dominican Republic perform a routine at the Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Mexican dancers perform along South Main Street during the second annual Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Just like America, Wilkes-Barre is a melting pot of different races, cultures and peoples.

And Saturday’s second annual Multicultural Parade & Festival was a perfect illustration of that, according to several local officials.

“The day’s festivities showcase the different cultures in our area and how we all get along with one another,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George. “Wilkes-Barre is a melting pot. So many cultures are on hand today.”

George said the parade and festival grew significantly from last year’s inaugural edition.

“We have a lot more people this year,” he said. “I think it’s a big credit to the work we put in last year to grow this special day.”

Congressman Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, was downtown mingling with people along the parade route to show support for the area’s diversity.

“This is huge,” said Cartwright, who is running for re-election this fall. “It’s an affirmation that America is melting pot and that we embrace all backgrounds and cultures. It makes me proud to be an American.”

Cartwright also put the event into historical context. Even though it was only the second annual multicultural celebration, he said this area has been an example of how to assimilate peoples for more than a century.

“The statue of John Mitchell in Scranton is a symbol of how he brought all of the ethnic groups together in solidarity,” said Cartwright, referencing the famous labor leader and former president of the United Mine Workers of America.

“When I go to Washington, D.C., I tell everyone about our heritage and how our different cultures bring us all together,” he added.

‘Diversity very important’

Vanessa Yao, 21, is president of the Multicultural International Club at King’s College. She marched in the parade because she knew how important it was to participate.

“We put our best efforts forward in terms of community outreach,” Yao said. “It was a great opportunity to represent King’s and help express the diversity of different cultures to the community.

“Diversity is very important. It’s always great to learn new things from different cultures.”

Yao was impressed by the day’s turnout.

“Honestly, I was surprised at how many different cultural associations were on hand,” she said. “It’s very comforting to know that Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding areas are diverse.”

Just because Sandra Germosen and her children came late to the festivities, that didn’t prevent them from indulging in what the festival had to offer.

“There is a lot of great food,” said Germosen, of Wilkes-Barre. “It’s good to see a lot of people moving about. I think more people will come out every year to show their support.”

Germosen said she really enjoyed some of the costumes and dances that marchers showed off during the morning’s parade.

The Times Leader Media Group was the official media sponsor of the event, which ran through the evening with multiple vendors on Public Square.

Former Wilkes-Barre NAACP Chapter President and Multicultural Parade grand marshal Ron Felton waves to the crowd along South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_2-1-.jpgFormer Wilkes-Barre NAACP Chapter President and Multicultural Parade grand marshal Ron Felton waves to the crowd along South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Luzerne County Court President Judge Richard Hughes, left, walks along the parade route with Wilkes-Barre City Administrator Ted Wampole and Mayor Tony George on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_3-1-.jpgLuzerne County Court President Judge Richard Hughes, left, walks along the parade route with Wilkes-Barre City Administrator Ted Wampole and Mayor Tony George on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Miss Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Outstanding Teen 2018 Britney Cheskiewicz waves as she rides along the parade route during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_4-1-.jpgMiss Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Outstanding Teen 2018 Britney Cheskiewicz waves as she rides along the parade route during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Members of the Lithuanian Women’s Club of Wyoming Valley wave their flags during the Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_5-1-.jpgMembers of the Lithuanian Women’s Club of Wyoming Valley wave their flags during the Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

People along the parade route take photos of two Jamaican stilt walkers as they approach Public Square in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_6-1-.jpgPeople along the parade route take photos of two Jamaican stilt walkers as they approach Public Square in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Talal Alanazi, center, joins students from King’s College during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_7-1-.jpgTalal Alanazi, center, joins students from King’s College during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

The Panamanian delegation shows its cultural pride as members walk along the parade route.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_8-1-.jpgThe Panamanian delegation shows its cultural pride as members walk along the parade route. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Members of the international community carry national flags as they turn onto Public Square during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_9-1-.jpgMembers of the international community carry national flags as they turn onto Public Square during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Times Leader Publisher Mike Murray, left, and Executive Editor Joe Soprano carry a banner for the Times Leader Media Group during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival. The Times Leader was the official media sponsor of the event.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_12-1-.jpgTimes Leader Publisher Mike Murray, left, and Executive Editor Joe Soprano carry a banner for the Times Leader Media Group during Saturday’s Multicultural Parade & Festival. The Times Leader was the official media sponsor of the event. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Matthew Price, 8, of Kingston, and his mom, Mary Harris, study the flag of Malaysia and over 100 others on display in Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square during the Multicultural Parade & Festival on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_11-1-.jpgMatthew Price, 8, of Kingston, and his mom, Mary Harris, study the flag of Malaysia and over 100 others on display in Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square during the Multicultural Parade & Festival on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Dancers from the Dominican Republic perform a routine at the Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_10-1-.jpgDancers from the Dominican Republic perform a routine at the Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Mexican dancers perform along South Main Street during the second annual Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091618Multicultural_1-1-1-.jpgMexican dancers perform along South Main Street during the second annual Multicultural Parade & Festival in downtown Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Dan Stokes

[email protected]

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes