Let’s hope for good weather at the Cherry Blossom Festival

And just like that, they’re back.

The Cherry Blossom trees are starting to bud, and just in time for the 51st annual West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival taking place next weekend.

Now next weekend won’t be as hot as it is this weekend, but the long range forecast looks like it will be in the low 60s with no rain. As organizers know, spring weather is unpredictable – as we saw last week – and hopefully rain does not interfere with the festival.

I spoke to both Lori DeAngelo, the president of festival organization, and Gina Malsky, who year-after-year does a great job with the Little Miss Cherry Blossom Festival Princess pageant and with entertainment scheduling.

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Both women are excited to get back on track and have the festival after canceling in 2020 and delaying it in 2021.

The Cherry Blossom Festival parade steps off at noon on Saturday, April 30, followed by the opening ceremonies and pageant.

It looks like the arts and crafts tent is filled with plenty of artisans selling their wares.

Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club will be on hand with children’s games and plenty of Duck Derby tickets to sell for the fall.

The West Pittston Boy Scout Troop 302 will be hosting the food tent as always, and it will be good to see the gang back once again.

The Cherry Blossom Festival committee will be selling raffle and such to help with expenses so make sure you stop by their tent.

I had the privilege of speaking to the 2022 Grand Marshal, Jerry Zezza, who is such a modest guy; he’s still bewildered why he was chosen for the title.

I’ve known Jerry both as a student going back to the stone age right through to today, and there is not a finer gentleman in the borough.

The amazing stat behind Jerry is, and you don’t see them much with the younger generations, he was born in West Pittston, grew up here, worked here and is now retired here.

I honestly think that’s a cool thing that he was fortunate enough live all of his 80 years right in the Garden Village.

Being Grand Marshal will be bittersweet for Jerry having lost his longtime best friend and wife, Cookie, in 2014. I’m sure his family will be present as he is paraded down Exeter and Wyoming Avenue before being formally acknowledged on stage during opening ceremonies.

I remember questioning, in this column, why the festival doesn’t expand to more hours or even a day or two more.

It didn’t take too long before Gina explained why. Simply put, the committee doesn’t want it to grow.

It’s a traditional thing that gives the festival that old fashioned, down-home feeling, and as much as I like progress and to see events grow – like the Tomato Festival, for example – maybe Gina and the committee have it right.

It’s a chance to honor great people like the Jerry Zezzas of the borough, to get community people involved in keeping the homegrown feeling alive.

Honestly, the only thing I can think of that might go well with the festival is a pie and ice cream tent. Man, I miss those pie and ice cream socials when I was a kid, and nothing tasted better than everyone getting to show off some of the resident’s favorite pie recipes.

Of course, outside of the entertainment, the princess pageant is always fun and to see those young girls on stage doing their best to sing or dance to the delight of their parents and grandparents is priceless.

My favorite thing to do during the pageant is watch mom and dad in the audience. Naturally, these days are different than years ago when parents would watch, not parents are recording their child’s talent on their cellphones.

I remember when my brother Frank had a band and they were chosen to perform one year when we were teenagers. I have to admit, it was a bit weird watching him on stage at that age, but yet, I was filled with pride. To this day I can’t remember if they played well or if they tanked or who his bandmates were, but I just enjoyed knowing he was on that stage doing something he loved.

There’s no doubt we all have memories of going to the Cherry Blossom festival to just hang out, or have a bite to eat or purchase something from the crafts tent.

I kind of wish the Borough of West Pittston could come up with a few more events through the course of the year where we can all gather and be entertained and eat food.

There was a time when gatherings like that happened a lot, like all the little bazaars, whether it was the Little League or the Moose or the fire companies. It gave us all something to look forward to and it made the summer fly by.

If you get a chance, get to the Cherry Blossom Festival, have a bite to eat, watch the entertainment, maybe buy something from the crafts tent, and mostly, look at the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms that is honored in the Garden Village.

One quick note: congratulations to the Borough of Dupont on completing and opening the Dupont Housing for the Elderly.

Quote of the week

“Life imposes things on you that you can’t control, but you still have the choice of how you’re going to live through this.” – Celine Dion

Thought of the week

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little nameless, unencumbered acts of kindness and of love.” – Wordsworth

Bumper sticker

“The healthiest response to life is joy.” – Deepak Chopra

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