Riverfest celebrates Pittston area’s history

By Ralph Nardone - For Times Leader | September 12th, 2015 8:42 pm

PITTSTON — The rich history of the Greater Pittston area was celebrated on Saturday at the eighth annual Pittston Riverfest held at the city’s Riverfront Park.

Visitors enjoyed modern and old-style craft displays and demonstrations, historical exhibits showcasing area historical icons, entertainment, kids’ arts projects, free hay rides to the Knox Mine and more.

“It’s all about the history of the area,” said organizer Keith Moss, mayor of Duryea and vice president of the Greater Pittston Cultural Coalition (GPCC), the group that sponsors the event each year.

“There is an increasing interest in how local communities were formed,” he said.

Displays included Native American artifacts from times well before the immigrants flooded the Pittston area to work in the mines and tool and craftwork methods actually performed by folks in period attire that dated back to Colonial times.

A Mark Twain impersonator walked the grounds talking up history and Civil War generals from the Confederation of Union Generals described their experiences on the battlefield.

Viewers watched the “ring of fire” maintenance technique that used keep the trains moving, visitors heard discussions about the Knox Mine Disaster of 1959 and local martial arts experts jumped and punched invisible combatants.

Some of the displays focused on more recent history, said Robert Savakinas, an educator and historical researcher from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. He had information about Rocky Glen Park, which used to be located in Moosic and was a very popular place for local people to go in its heyday only a few decades ago, and about local artist C. Edgar Patience, who made anthracite coal sculptures that were displayed all over the world.

The history is “very rich” in the Pittston area even up to a short time ago, Savakinas said. Riverfest helps visitors, young and old to “really appreciate it because they get a chance to actually live a part of it,” he added.

Pittston Councilman Mike Lombardo said the city fully supports Riverfest because it is good for the city and its residents.

“We’ve worked to improve the city aesthetically. This event promotes the diverse culture of the city,” he said. “Plus it promotes other amenities the city has including the park, trails and the river,” he added.

By Ralph Nardone

For Times Leader

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