A decision came down this past week and as the summer moved along, it’s a decision Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo could no longer avoid making – to cancel the Pittston Tomato Festival.
When I spoke to the mayor a few months ago, he was very optimistic about the possibility of holding the festival stating, “Anything could happen between now and the third week in August.”
Frankly, I agreed with him and hoped for the best.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was on lockdown when I contacted the mayor, and our numbers were dropping. It looked like we were getting a handle of what we had to do to keep the virus at bay.
If there’s one thing I know about Mayor Lombardo, he’s one of the most optimistic people and as he said then, it’s easier to plan for the event and cancel as late as possible then try to put the festival on at the last minute.
It’s a huge disappointment to cancel the festival not just to the mayor, but also to the approximately 50,000 festivalgoers each year.
Many food vendors are not established restaurants and depend on the summer circuit of festivals and bazaars to earn a living. With the whole summer season wiped out, it has to be a financial disaster for so many.
Many of the musical acts scheduled are also hurting due to COVID-19. The Tomato Festival is one of the biggest summer-ending events and to have a chance to perform in front of so many at the festival has to be a thrill.
So many local solo acts and bands have not had the chance to perform and earn money since mid-March, although some food establishments able to open outdoor facilities have been able to hire performers, but those jobs seem to be limited.
Many runners in and out of the area look forward to running the annual 5K race, but they will also be missing this year’s event.
The reigning pageant winners will be holding onto their crowns for one additional year as well.
How can we forget the famous tomato fights?
It goes without saying; the tomato fights have to be one of the biggest highlights of the four-day weekend. Every year there is someone that stands out in the crowd of tomato throwers.
Last year a jilted bride at the altar decided to wear her wedding dress to the tomato fights in a bit of a revenge move and to prove she was over the sadness.
Harvey’s Lake resident Katlin Evans was a good sport and if her ex-finance didn’t know what her intentions were, he certainly did after the tomato fights. I think Katlin was in every newspaper and on every TV news show the next day.
Needless-to-say, Katlin had a ball and she really got into the spirit of the fight and yes, her wedding dress ended up soaked in tomato juice and seeds.
I’m sure the city will take a hit as well as many of the business establishment will be losing some revenue over the four-days.
The Tomato Festival is a bittersweet ending of the summer. It is always the perfect way to put an exclamation point to the end of summer but yet; school children knew next up was school starting around the corner.
The Tomato Festival committee does work hard during the year to ensure the festival goes on without a hitch so knowing this year won’t happen has to be a major disappointment for them as well.
As the summer has been progressing, we see fairs, bazaars, and festivals canceling and again, it’s no surprise, just a bummer for everyone.
The Allentown Fair is the latest to cancel this past week. It seems one of the only fairs not to cancel so far is the Bloomsburg Fair. We will have to wait and see what happens there as COVID-19 cases are climbing again in the state.
On a bright note, Pittston City carried on with the Second Friday Art Walks that began for the summer, with a bit of a delay, this past Friday.
Organizers feel that social distancing and mask wearing will suffice for this event because vendors are spread around throughout Main Street.
Everyone is flying by the seat of his or her pants on all fronts because nobody has ever experienced a pandemic in this lifetime.
Government officials to school officials are constantly changing, altering, and doing their best to stay one step ahead of the virus and its effect on events and schedules.
High schools may be up for a bigger challenge and will comply with CDC guidelines.
As far as the City of Pittston goes, they will plan accordingly with future events including plans to hold an Octoberfest and fingers will be crossed for that event to happen.
Again, Mayor Lombardo is being optimistic for the fall of this year in planning Octoberfest and rightfully so. Who knows where we will be in the next 90 to 100 days?
It’s really coming down to a vaccine of sorts to allow us to finally put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us so we can all get back to a normal lifestyle.
I can’t wait to put 2020 behind me.
My old neighborhood
My neighborhood growing up has changed immensely except for one constant, Joan Silveri has been a mainstay and I’d like to wish her a happy 90th birthday.
Quote of the week
“In order to write about life first you must live it.” – Ernest Hemingway
Thought of the week
“Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can.” – Hillary Clinton
“The healthiest response to life is joy.” – Deepak Chopra