One for the history books

June 27th, 2015 1:30 am

First Posted: 8/22/2013

Another record year.

The 30th Annual Pittston Tomato Festival ended its 4-day run last Sunday and many records were broken, said festival co-chairman Michael Lombardo.

He said well over 50,000 people attended and the 5K race and Tomato Festival Parade had more participants that ever. And the Tomato Fights had a full roster.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better four days,” Lombardo said. “The weather was perfect. The bands were great. The food was fantastic.”

When pushed, Lombardo picked Catering by Callahan’s bruschetta chicken sandwich and pesto chicken as his standout meals.

“Everything was so good,” he said. “Its’ hard to pick just one.”

He was impressed with the first year of the Fuji stand that was offering sushi and other Asian specialties. The restaurant opened in the past year in the downtown.

Also new this year was Tomato Bar & Bistro. What was once a rundown bar is now a focal point of the festival activities. Two patios, a lower and an upper level, offered spectacular views of the lower festival lot and Downtown Pittston.

“It’s really a place to go,” Lombardo said. “We’re glad to have them.”

Rebecca Lyn Colwell was crowned 2013 Tomato Festival Queen.

The seven finalists ranging from 14 to 19 years of age were: Jacqueline Buckley, 18, Nanticoke; Mia Cain, 16, Duryea/Kingston; Rebecca Lyn Colwell, 17, West Pittston; Taylor Kane, 16, Plains; Jennifer Mataloni, 16, Hughestown; Celeste McCarley, 14, Kingston; and Anna Grace Moher, 14, Clarks Summit.

Colwell will receive a $500 cash scholarship from the Tomato Festival committee with the 1st runner up, Anna Grace Moher receiving a $250 cash scholarship.

She was crowned by the 2012 Tomato Queen Marina Maida.

A massive 30th birthday cake shaped like a tomato was presented by local caterers Biagio, Emma Jean and Blaise Alan Dente at the opening ceremony, held on the city’s new bandshell.

Two new tomato-themed pieces of art were unveiled at the festival.

A 20-foot steel and wire sculpture that stretches across South Main Street was unveiled. Brushed steel tomato crates are piled on top of each other and a wire mesh man is depicted holding the stack upright. On top of the crates are two wire mesh men holding a tomato festival banner. The banner is held on the other side by three wire men hanging down off the Open Space building.

The sculpture, “A Bad Idea,” was a good idea by Lombardo, but his vision was brought to life by metal workers Ray Preby and Sean Brady.

Also, a new tomato mural can be seen atop the Tropical Dreams building. Pictured are numerous tomatoes that appear to have been thrown at the wall. Dwight Kirkland of Black Leaf Studio in Mifflintown, part of the team responsible for the Heritage Mural that was unveiled last year, spent the better part of a week working on the piece, called “Ultomato.”

Lombardo said the festival committee will meet in a few weeks to tie up any loose ends and planning for the 31st festival will be underway by year’s end.

He said there are plans for a permanent storage facility/headquarters in the back of the upper lot and a third tier could become a reality once the new library expansion is underway.

“Every year we get better,” Lombardo said. “Next year will be no exception.”