PITTSTON — Pittston’s goal is to have the most public art of any American city its size — 1.7 square miles. According to Main Street Manager Rose Randazzo, that is possible.
The newest addition to the city will certainly play a major role in that vision.
The Pittston Inspiration Mural on the south side of the Newrose Building on South Main Street is near completion. Muralist Michael Pilato and his team have been working long nights to finish the mural prior to the 32nd Annual Pittston Tomato Festival.
The Tomato Festival began Thursday and runs through Sunday. Although the mural isn’t completely finished, it has certainly taken shape.
The only thing left to finish is the top of the mural, which will extend to the fifth floor of the building. The large piece will be the artist’s rendition of the St. John the Evangelist Church windows.
Former Pittston Area and Penn State star running back Jimmy Cefalo and his “Spaghetti Story” are the main focus on the mural. Currently, a bust of Cefalo is on the mural with Cefalo’s parents sharing pasta with late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
The centerpiece of the mural is not something Greater Pittstonians voted on.
The mural will be officially unveiled on Saturday, Sept. 5. Many characters depicted on the mural will be on hand for the unveiling, including Cefalo. There will be a pre-party at the Tomato Bar and Bistro at 4:30 p.m. and the mural will be dedicated at 6 p.m.
Randazzo has seen a rise in foot traffic at the mural site over the past several weeks.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “If you’re there during the day and early evening, it’s a constant stream of visitors. People are admiring it and photographing it. So far, it really brought the community together.”
In January, the city announced Greater Pittston residents could nominate anyone for the mural who had an impact on life in Greater Pittston. From there, a committee of three people made the final decision as to who would be depicted on the mural.
When the mural is completed, it will be one-of-a-kind. Pilato and his team have developed a cell phone app that will make the mural interactive where characters will come to life on the phone and tell their story. The mural, a 100-year sealer, which is graffiti proof, and the app cost $105,000.
Randazzo is most touched by the depiction of 9-year-old Justin Burns, who passed away in 2012. Burns, an Avoca resident, was a Penn State THON child and can be seen talking with Pilato’s daughter, Skye, who also passed away recently. Burns is wearing a THON T-shirt on the mural.
“Justin Burns’ mom and dad drive down Main Street every day to see their son on the steps,” Randazzo said. “It’s comforting to see them talking to one another. These are the little nuances all throughout the mural. When you really study it, you see so many new things.”
Randazzo made it clear the mural and the idea of it were not all hers and several volunteers have been working with her to make the mural a reality.
Currently, the city has raised nearly all of the $105,000 to pay for the mural. All of the money was provided by private donors. The only money Randazzo would receive from the city is a $25,000 Local Share Account grant, which is earmarked for public art. She has received that grant for the past four or five years, but doesn’t expect to put that money toward this mural.
“The community support and the generosity of the people made this possible,” she said. “The fact that people contribute to public art is just outstanding. This is tying old Pittston to new Pittston.”