PITTSTON — Once again, in the city of Pittston, it was a celebration of all things tomato.
The annual Tomato Festival kicked off Thursday night and is expected to bring in hundreds of people over the four days.
“To have the people come in and everybody’s like big family,” said Harry Vanchure of Wilkes-Barre.
But this year, it is extra special for the festival as it celebrates its 30th birthday! A tomato cake was lit and the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” during the opening ceremony.
Ann Marie Conroy’s husband Robert was one of the festival’s founders. She said the festival has come far over three decades.
“It was small, it was about four or five stands, and it was down where the Burger King is, that’s where it started and then it’s here, he would be so proud,” said Conroy.
Many people at the festival noticed not only the festival’s growth but the growth of Pittston as well.
“I’m so impressed with all the development here, it looks like a little street picked up from Washington D.C. with all the nice little neighborhood restaurants and bars,” said Georgiana Bart of Wilkes-Barre.
The festival may be aiding the revitalization efforts as well. A sculpture was unveiled on South Main Street and will now be a permanent fixture.
“It was a pole to support the banner and we decided that because form and function go together, it’s nice to make something look good as well as do something you need,” said Ray Preby, one of the designers.
A new restaurant, aptly called the Tomato Bar and Bistro opened just two month ago. They’re hoping the proximity to the festival will draw people in.
“Yeah, we’re right in the center of the action so I think things should go well, we’re looking forward to it and just kicking off right now,” said owner Mike Partash.
The Pittston Tomato Festival runs through Sunday with the big parade and popular tomato fight happening on Saturday.