WEST PITTSTON — A damp and chilly night did not stop 100 children and their parents from attending the second annual Christmas tree lighting Dec. 3 at the corner of Wyoming and Luzerne avenues where a 35-foot decorated tree sits on Antonio’s Restaurant lot.
The annual event was started by Stephen Gilpin, a West Pittston native who now works in New York City, and his family last year.
Gilpin and his brother Geoffrey have been more involved in West Pittston besides hosting the lighting of the Christmas tree. They have spearheaded the revitalization of flooded homes and homes in dire need of rehabilitation.
Stephen led a tour bus of investors to the borough from New York last year to tour flood-damaged properties and stir up interest in the borough as an investment opportunity.
The next phase for the West Pittston projects is to finish up properties, bring up the values, and begin marketing a strategy with an ad campaign.
One project the Gilpins have been involved with is the filming of a home remodeling project on Luzerne Avenue. The television show “Flip this House” is being filmed in the borough, with three episodes completed and three lined up to be shot, Gilpin said. “We want bring people into West Pittston and be aware of our town.”
The West Pittston episodes of “Flip the House” are expected to air at the end of January or the beginning of February on the DIY Network.
While Gilpin is bringing the national spotlight to West Pittston, during the tree lighting, the spotlight was focused on the children of the borough.
Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived via a West Pittston fire truck and were joined by characters Olaf, Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and others in handing out candy canes to all the children.
Youngsters had a chance to hug their favorite character, sip on hot chocolate, eat cookies and sing Christmas carols while waiting for the countdown to the tree lighting. Nine-year-old Caitlyn Hess, West Pittston, did the honors of pointing the magic wand to light the tree.
West Pittston Mayor Tony Denisco was on hand to thank town members and the police and fire departments for helping with the festivities. He especially thanked the Gilpin family for putting on the presentation.
“I love West Pittston,” Stephen said. “It’s about revitalization and we worked a lot this past year. We bought a lot of flood homes and I still believe in West Pittston and I believe the borough is coming back stronger and stronger every year. I love this town.”
Stephen has lived in Brooklyn, New York for the last 10 years. He now has a fiancée and recently purchased a house in West Pittston where he will take up residence. His brother Geoffrey has been living in West Pittston where he operates Gilpin Construction and Gilpin Management.
The Gilpin businesses have reached as far as Philadelphia where projects have developed similarly as West Pittston.
All totaled, the Gilpins have refurbished 16 homes, with four being completed in the last few months. Some of the homes will be renovated for resale and some investors will end up renting out properties that have been remodeled.