SCRANTON — Courthouse Square in Scranton is undergoing a transformation. Streets are filled with tents that will soon be filled with all the favorite Italian foods.
La Festa Italiana kicks off Saturday.
All the tents are lining Courthouse Square and vendors have spent the day setting up ovens and refrigerators for all that food.
La Festa Italiana is one of the biggest Italian food festivals in the state and it’s made quite a name for itself in its 33 years in downtown Scranton. We talked to some vendors who have been working here all those years.
It takes almost an entire week to get Courthouse Square in Scranton ready for its Labor Day tradition. Organizers of La Festa Italiana said the idea is to remind you of the heritage they’re honoring.
“This beautiful square that we have around us, is as close to a piazza in Italy as you can come,” said organizer Chris Dimatteo.
Vendors spent most of the day before the fest bringing their kitchens outdoors after wiring is run all the way around the square. They start plugging in fridges, stoves, and burners where they’ll serve food they’ve spent the past week preparing.
Tony Thomas has been serving up portabella mushroom sandwiches for 24 of La Festa’s 33 years.
“It’s make it or break it. It all depends on the weather,” said Thomas. “(The forecast) looks a little shaky, we’ll see what happens.”
La Festa Italiana is a big money maker for the restaurants from near and far that come to Courthouse Square but, it’s a Labor Day tradition for many, too. The volunteers from UNICO have served porketta sandwiches on the corner of North Washington and Linden since the beginning.
“It’s probably the best sandwich in all of northeastern Pennsylvania, one of a kind. There’s a secret to it. But we can’t tell the secret,” said Jim Cerrano.
UNICO is one of several groups that use La Festa to raise money for charity. They’ve added one charity this year. Some money will go toward a new veteran’s center under construction in Scranton. The volunteers said that will make all work worth it.
“Ours is service above self, so everything we make is going out to the community,” said Cerrano.
La Festa Italiana lasts three days on Courthouse Square. It kicks off at 11 a.m. and wraps up on Labor Day at 9 p.m.