When Sam Valenti was named the 2018 Tomato Festival Grand Marshall, he first thought about his beloved city.
“I am proud of the city and I wish a lot of my family members not around today would see it today,” Valenti said. “They were downtown people; I wish they could see how the city has progressed.”
A resident of Pittston, Valenti, 67, former director of the City of Pittston Dept. of Public Works who retired two years ago, humbly accepted the Grand Marshall honor when asked.
“I was shocked; I didn’t see it coming and I’m honored they chose me,” Valenti said. A city employee for 24 years, he started as the director of sanitation before accepting the position of, in addition to, the director of the dept. of public works doing both jobs over the last 15 years of his career before retiring May 2017.
“When I was at the position, I tried to do the best I possibly could for the residents of the city and I worked close with the men,” Valenti added. “I’m a hands-on kind of a guy; it’s a tough job because it’s a 24 hours a day, seven days a week job where you deal with the elements like snow plowing and ice storms.”
He went on to say the job was all about respect. “I respected the job the men did and I try to show the respect to them.”
Valenti enjoyed his association with everyone he worked work with over his lifetime. “I did enjoy working with the vendors in the sanitation business and I miss the friendships with those vendors,” he lamented.
Prior to working at the city, Valenti worked in the sanitation industry but, before that, he was employed by the Luzerne County Transportation Authority.
Valenti is no stranger to the Tomato Festival. When working in the sanitation industry, his company was hired for hauling away trash from the very first festival 25 years ago.
Since he retired, Valenti is enjoying life, admiring his 1969 Dodge Coronet RT muscle car and catching auto shows.
“I’m enjoying the summer and sun and, since I’m an antique automobile hobbyist, I try to hit all the antique automobile shows that I can.”
Look for Valenti during the Tomato Festival Parade on Saturday, Aug. 18. He’ll be the one in the Grand Marshal car.
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