PITTSTON — The saying goes, “Let’s paint the town red” but, in this city’s case, everything will be painted green.
And maybe orange, too.
For the fifth time, the Pittston St. Patrick’s Parade will make its way down the city’s main street with Irish colors, music, and plenty of people enjoying the festivities. The event will begin at noon Saturday, March 3.
City Events Coordinator Sarah Donahue said the parade committee has done a fantastic job keeping the parade fresh and exciting each year.
“It makes me feel very proud,” Donahue said. “The work our committee has put together over the last five years, obstacles to overcome —there have been many — and just the fact that we have made it to five. I’m very proud and very excited.”
The Pittston St. Patrick’s Parade is the kickoff to the year of events for Greater Pittston, which includes the Cherry Blossom Festival in West Pittston, the Second Friday Art Walk events, the Pittston Tomato Festival, Paint Pittston Pink, Trick or Treat Main Street and Christmas in Pittston.
Donahue said the committee thrives under pressure to kick the season off with a bang.
“We like to set the bar high,” she said.
It’s not Parade Day unless there’s a race prior to it, and the third annual Leprachaun Loop is one everyone can enjoy.
The one-mile race starts at 11 a.m. at the Greater Pittston YMCA, goes up Main Street and loops onto Kennedy Boulevard by the Coal Miner Statue, continues down Kennedy Boulevard to the Christopher Columbus Statue, comes back onto Main Street and finishes at the YMCA.
Registration is $15 per person.
Donahue said the event has gotten more registrants over the years, with last year’s having close to 150 participants.
She added it’s become a popular event for those wishing to cross “run a race” off their New Year’s resolution list.
“I think it’s a great race because, personally, if someone is looking to get into running or get into shape for the new year and maybe wants to make it a goal of theirs to run, it’s a perfect run to start with,” she said. “You can say you’ve run a race, and really it’s only a mile. It’s very easy.”
For those not looking to run, they can walk the event. Donahue encourages those participating to dress in their wackiest outfit for a possible prize in the end.
“Even if you don’t think you can win (the race), you can still win the best costume contest,” she said. “We have a couple prizes for best costume so we encourage people to wear green. Wear something outlandish and festive.”
In addition to the parade, there are other events, some old and new.
The Pub Crawl is a returning favorite for parade festivities, marking its third year.
Donahue said the event will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 and include four bars — Knights of Columbus, Tomato Bar, The Red Mill and Brews Brothers.
Committee members will be accompanied by the Wyoming Valley Pipe and Drum Band, as they play two songs at each bar.
“We’re there for an hour apiece with 15-minute gap for travel,” Donahue said of the Pub Crawl. “We will come into the bar, the band will march into the bar playing so it’s a big spectacle to see. They’ll play their first set, mingle, play their second set, and then we’ll leave and go to the next bar.”
Little Miss, Little Mister Leprachaun
A brand new event added this year is the Little Miss, Little Mister Leprechaun, which is similar to the Little Miss, Little Mister Tomato from the Tomato Festival.
It will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Pittston Memorial Library and is open to children ages 3 to 7.
“It was something we talked about for a couple of years within committee meetings,” Donahue said. “We’re always looking to grow and add things to our parade festivities. We’re just looking to add different elements; this is something we thought would be nice for our fifth annual to add.”
Donahue will ask participants a series of questions, and three judges will judge them based on their appearance and personality.
“I’m really excited for it, and I’m excited to see how many kids turn out,” she said. “I’m excited to hear their answers about what they like in the parade, how they feel about leprechauns. I think it should be a really fun event.”
She also noted the event is being held a week before the parade so the winners can ride in it.
The line painting event includes the painting of the green lines up Main Street, but the parade committee decided to add flare to them this year.
Employees of Mayo Striping, of Falls, will drive up Main Street around 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23 dressed as leprechauns as they paint the lines.
“Or maybe they really are leprechauns,” Donahue joked. “That’s unconfirmed.”
Mayo Striping will be accompanied by Butch Modzelewski on the bagpipes to get everyone in the Irish spirit.
“He is very ceremoniously leading the painting up Main Street,” Donahue said. “So, he plays the bagpipe, they paint the lines and the shamrocks in their usual spots. It’s just hysterical to see the leprechauns painting the green lines. They’re such good sports.”
With the St. Patrick’s Parade ready to kick off the year for Greater Pittston, Donahue is excited for all the events to get everyone in the Irish spirit and help grow the parade.
“In our years of growing as a committee, we’re looking to grow the event and make it more of a celebration of the Irish heritage and the City of Pittston and our neighboring communities,” she said.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher