Parishioners from the now-consolidated St. Rocco's Parish carried their saint's statue through the streets last Sunday as part of the Feast of St. Rocco celebration.
After Mass held at the consolidated church, St. Joseph Marello Parish, St. Rocco's statue was fastened to the back of a pickup truck and moved across town to the old church on West Oak Street where congregation members waited. Parishioners gathered around to touch the statue and fasten dollar bills to ribbons around its neck, a tradition of believers who have needs, especially illnesses, they want St. Rocco to bring before the Lord.
The church bells rang out to celebrate, though no Mass has been held their since its doors closed last month.
As the entourage hoisted the saint on his carriage, shouting "Viva, San Rocco!" the Cino Paci Band struck up "La Triestina," an Italian marching song and the procession began through the streets of Pittston's Oregon section.
In between musical numbers, the Rev. Joseph Sibliano said prayers of the rosary as nearly 100 members of his congregation followed, some praying along, some taking pictures, almost everyone smiling.
Tony Giardina has been walking during the celebration his entire life.
"I'm 69," Giardina said. "I was a little boy and I was walking here with my father." Giardina is carrying on the tradition set by his father, a St. Rocco's Parish founding member.
The band kicked up for another number and Giardina stopped, mid-sentence. He turned to look at the musicians playing at the rear of the procession. He stood still for a moment and stared.
"I just love that music," he said. "They've been playing that for as long as I can remember. My father was here, I am here now with my children and grandchildren."
He pointed out some of his 10 grandchildren, all walking in the procession.
Residents along the streets poked their heads out windows to view the commotion. Some sat waiting on their porches and approached the small parade to pin money to St. Rocco's ribbons.
Most could not recall just how long the feast's parade has continued through Pittston's streets; however, the consensus was at least 80 years.
Now that the old church has been closed, Giardina said the congregation of the consolidated church will have to work together to sustain the old, precious traditions.