Scranton’s Little Italy On Labor Day

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SCRANTON -- La Festa Italiana in Scranton, the festival honoring Italian culture and cuisine, wraps up Monday night.

In case you missed it, one of the highlights of La Festa was the re-lighting of the "Electric City" sign high above Scranton's downtown Saturday night.

Crews replaced all of the bulbs in the sign with colorful LEDs.

Organizers say La Festa was a rousing success once again.

"We have no chairs at home. They're all down here in Scranton. Yeah, everybody says 'save me a couple chairs, save me a couple chairs.'"

The Miceli family from Binghamton has a small colony of saved seats in front of the La Festa Italiana bandstand on Courthouse Square. They travel about an hour each way for each day of the festival.

But that's nothing. The friends they're waiting for are from Florida.

"Get here about 8:30 and you get these premium spots!" said Vinny Miceli of Binghamton, New York.

The wait for the music to start is sometimes shorter than the time it takes people travel to get to the three-day Italian food festival in downtown scranton.

Organizers say the crowds they draw have grown the past few years and the people who visit are travelling farther.

"A lot of the festivals that were in those areas, New York and New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, they don't have them anymore. A lot of the churches, they're not as ethnic as they used to be," said organizer Chris DiMatteo.

You'll see a lot of vendors from out of town, too. They say they travel to Scranton because La Festa Italiana is consistent after its 39 years. And the business is consistently good.

Tony Scala of Brooklyn used to be unique when he started vending at La Festa 36 years ago. Now, there are many vendors from New York City.

"What's it like packing up all your stuff and bringing it from Brooklyn?

"Not fun, not fun, it's a lot of work. It is a lot of work. It's probably about five or six days prep before we come, and then two or three days here," Scala replies.

It's still three days he wouldn't miss.

And just like the Micelis' chairs in front of the bandstand, La Festa is here to stay, too.