Pittston Tomato Festival Parade still enjoyed by many — 35 years later

By Jimmy Fisher - jfisher@timesleader.com
Pittston Tomato Festival Grand Marshal Sam Valenti rides in the parade along Main Street Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo, right, shakes hands with long-time festival goer Frank Stanulis, 81, of Swoyersville, during the Tomato Festival Parade Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Pittston Tomato Festival mascot Stew waves to the crowd along Main Street Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
The Wyoming Are and Pittston Area marching bands perform together as they march in the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
The Cino Paci Band performs in the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

PITTSTON — Frank Stanulis is a mainstay at the Tomato Festival. So much so, that he has sat in the same spot every year for the last 20 years during the parade.

The Swoyersville resident said he usually arrives around 8:30 a.m. and sits right by the Lower Tomato Festival Lot. He doesn’t leave the city until around 9 p.m., but he always finds ways to occupy himself, such as enjoying all the food.

“The food is out of this world,” the 81-year-old said. “The parade, the race, the Tomato Fights, the people. But, mainly the food. (I like) all of it.”

Stanulis couldn’t have asked for a better day as the sun was shining and politicians, businesses, athletic teams and other organizations paraded down Main Street, blaring music and passing out candy.

While Stanulis was enjoying his 20th parade, Trinity Basara, 11, was enjoying her first parade with her family.

The young Dallas resident sat in the street by the curb with her younger cousin Hunter Basara, 4, sitting on her lap and her youngest cousin Reed Basara, 2, nearby.

“I love it,” Trinity said of the event. “(I like) all of the candy.”

Trinity said she enjoyed the fire trucks and the cars, and her cousins felt the same way as she asked what they enjoyed most.

“The police cars,” said Hunter.

“The fire trucks,” said Reed.

This year’s Tomato Festival has been bombarded with one-and off-rain and thunderstorms, so city mayor Michael Lombardo was thankful the weather held out for the parade.

“The weather always sort of affects where we are, but it’s cooperated with us,” he said. “We’re fortunate and I think the turnout is great for a Saturday morning. I thought the numbers were good on the sidewalk and there’s people up in the lot.”

Because of the ever-changing weather patterns, Lombardo said the committee took precautions this year with wiring and electricity to ensure safety.

He said upgrades to the electrical units have been underway these last few years and next year the electrical system will be completely new.

“When you have this many people and electricity all around the lot, you want to make sure the conditions are in no question safe,” Lombardo said. “At the beginning of next year, we’ll have redone all of the electrical setup.”

With the major parade done, Lombardo said he can now sit back and finally enjoy the festival. But, he also said it’s a good time for him to sneak out and get a little rest.

“I’ll pull a couple acts of Houdini where I can go home and rest for a little while,” he joked. “I’m looking for a stunt double so that it doesn’t appear obvious that I’m not here. I get through the (Tomato) Fights and then I feel like I can take a big breath. Once mid-Saturday gets here, I feel like I can enjoy the festival.”

Pittston Tomato Festival Grand Marshal Sam Valenti rides in the parade along Main Street Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_PSD081918TomatoParade_1.jpgPittston Tomato Festival Grand Marshal Sam Valenti rides in the parade along Main Street Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo, right, shakes hands with long-time festival goer Frank Stanulis, 81, of Swoyersville, during the Tomato Festival Parade Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_PSD081918TomatoParade_2.jpgPittston Mayor Michael Lombardo, right, shakes hands with long-time festival goer Frank Stanulis, 81, of Swoyersville, during the Tomato Festival Parade Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Pittston Tomato Festival mascot Stew waves to the crowd along Main Street Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_PSD081918TomatoParade_3.jpgPittston Tomato Festival mascot Stew waves to the crowd along Main Street Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

The Wyoming Are and Pittston Area marching bands perform together as they march in the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_PSD081918TomatoParade_5.jpgThe Wyoming Are and Pittston Area marching bands perform together as they march in the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

The Cino Paci Band performs in the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade Saturday.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_PSD081918TomatoParade_4.jpgThe Cino Paci Band performs in the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Residents gather from all over Luzerne County to enjoy event

By Jimmy Fisher

jfisher@timesleader.com

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.