PITTSTON — Main Street was a sea of green as the Third Annual Pittston City St. Patrick’s Parade rolled into the city Saturday.
Locals wore their best green garb to show off their Irish pride, whether or not their ancestry reflected it. Shamrock flags hung from every light pole and super-sized Irish symbols of luck were painted on the pavement, too.
Bagpipe players filled the air with their music as they and other Greater Pittston organizations marched in the parade smiling, waving and tossing candy.
Prior to the parade, more than 150 people participated in the first-ever Leprechaun Loop, a one-mile race that started on Kennedy Boulevard and looped around onto South Main Street.
First-place winner was 16-year-old Clayton Kismal, of White Haven, who finished with a time of 5 minutes and 14 seconds.
Kismal said he competes for Crestwood High School in cross country and track, so running the Leprechaun Loop was just another day.
“I run a lot during the week,” he said. “Up to 50 miles a week.”
Sisters Tami Pavill, of Shickshinny, and Kori Britton, of Jefferson Township, were awarded best dressed during the loop.
“We were winners just to walk in the loop and now we’re double winners,” said Pavill with a laugh.
“I’m wearing (my medal) every day next week,” joked Britton.
Both sisters wore green devil horns and had some shamrocks on their faces. Pavill wore a gold vest and Britton wore a silver one.
They weren’t just working on their St. Patrick’s Day style — the sisters made a pact this year to get healthier.
“We’ve been trying to walk more,” said Pavill. “We did (a race) in January, one in February and now this is our March one.”
City Events Coordinator Sarah Donahue said she was too busy making sure the parade lineup was set and didn’t get to watch the inaugural race.
She heard people enjoyed it, and the event will most likely become an annual event with the parade.
That extra time at the lineup area paid off — Donahue said the event went better than expected, though she did get a little help in keeping things organized.
“My biggest concern is always the lineup,” she said. “It’s getting people in order and people lining up while traffic is still moving and I worry about accidents. However, this year I had the Lackawanna College Police Academy helping. They were lineup helpers and I had two per division. They were really, really, really, really great and the lineup was absolutely in perfect order.”
Donahue said the third time was the charm in terms of weather, as the air was chilly but the sun was shining.
The first parade in 2014 was a rainy day and last year’s event had temperatures no higher than 20 degrees.
“It’s a little chilly but it’s not raining,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the weather and as long as it doesn’t rain, it can be cold. I think there’s a lot of people out. The crowd looks great and I’m just so happy the parade is here and I hope everyone has a fun day.”
As the parade went on, Donahue was already taking mental notes to prepare for the 2017 parade.
“My biggest thing with the parade is the lineup, so I’m taking a lot of lineup notes,” she said. “I do the best I can in lining people up in a good order to make a nice, entertaining parade. You’re not going to please everybody, obviously, and everybody wants to be higher up so the people that are further back aren’t always pleased. I try to make a nice lineup, so I am listening to problems people have.”
Donahue has always stated the plans for the following Pittston City St. Patrick’s Parade begin the day after the current event, but this year might not be the case.
“I’m not getting out of bed all day,” she said of her plans for Sunday. “I’m sleeping until school on Monday; I’m off the grid for a day.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher