Emma Granahan, 6, of Exeter, gets a ride on Otto as owner Jim Heller of Sweet Valley leads the way at the West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival. For more photos, go to the CLICK page.PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER
WEST PITTSTON – Die-hard fans of the West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival – some wearing hooded jackets, others under umbrellas and some with no protection from the elements at all – listened to live entertainment, played games and ate their favorite picnic foods as rounds of drizzle and light rain fell Sunday.
“It seems to rain every year,” said Kelly Dushok, who attended the 38th annual event with her husband Bob and their 6-year-old daughter, Jennifer.
But a little inclement weather wasn’t enough to keep away the festival-loving family, who took home some Welsh cookies from First United Methodist Church of West Pittston, homemade lollypops and homemade dog biscuits for their pet pooch Megabyte.
“We were here (Saturday and Sunday). It’s been three or four years that we’ve been coming. It’s nice. There’s not as many people this year as in past years. I think the weather has a lot to do with it,” Dushok said.
Still, turnout was better this year than last year, when it rained both days of the festival, said Ralph Salerno, president of the event.
The event began with a parade at noon on Saturday, followed by a Little Miss Cherry Blossom contest and entertainment that lasted into the early evening. The festival reopened at noon on Sunday with a lip sync contest and more entertainment until 5 p.m.
Salerno said this year was one of the best for arts-and-crafts lovers, as about 40 vendors showed their wares under a large tent.
Dianne Ginley, a first-time vendor at the festival selling hand-painted wine glasses and carafes, martini glasses and Christmas ornaments, said she “definitely” will return next year.
“I’ve done well today, actually the whole weekend. … I’m surprised. I think it’s because Mother’s Day is coming up. I think that’s helping. There’s been a lot of people here,” said Ginley, of Ashley.
Salerno said the festival benefits the non-profit organizations that take part; vendor fees, raffle sales and food sale profits benefit the festival and community organizations such as the library, fire department and ambulance association.
The festival committee uses funding to maintain the Japanese cherry trees along the West Pittston River Commons.
Salerno wished to thank volunteers from the Wyoming area Key and Builders clubs, Mayor Bill Goldsworthy, borough council and the property owners along Susquehanna Avenue to allow the committee to use their properties each year.