As La Festa Italiana celebrates its 40th year, the annual end-of-summer festival in downtown Scranton is expanding its schedule by opening on Friday evening for the very first time.
La Festa take place over Labor Day weekend—Friday through Monday, Septe. 4 – 7—on the Courthouse Square in the heart of the city. The event hours are: Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Monday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. As usual, more than 80 vendors will be offering great Italian food, and continuous live entertainment will be featured on multiple stages around the square. There is no admission charge.
This year’s event also coincides with First Friday in the city, giving visitors a full array of entertainment, culinary and cultural activities at nearby venues—all within walking distance.
La Festa’s inaugural Friday night will feature one of the festival’s most popular acts, the Duprees, who will perform on the main stage at 7 p.m. The Duprees are well known for their romantic interpretations of beautiful love songs. They have made a career out of giving new life to old hits. Starting out in the early 60’s, in Jersey City the Duprees were discovered by George Paxton of Coed Records and former big band leader. Impressed with their smooth vocal quality, he had them record Jo Stafford’s 50’s ballad “You Belong To Me” with big band arrangements. It was an instant national hit and the group’s first million seller.
La Festa Italiana will conclude with a superb act that will be making its debut performance at the event—the Bronx Wanderers. The group will hit the stage on Monday, Sept. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Consisting of a father and his two sons, the Bronx Wanderers are living the American rock n’ roll dream by performing 50’s, 60’s and 70’s hits, including a tribute to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
A variety of other continuous live entertainment for both young and old tastes will be presented on the Mohegan Sun Main Stage, the ShopRite Picnic Tent Stage, the Spruce Street Stage and the Children’s Stage each day.
Among the many other acts that will perform are the famous Poets, Italian tenor Christopher Macchio, comedian Uncle Floyd, Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms from Ohio, Chris DiMattio’s tribute to Sinatra, a Connie Francis tribute featuring Nikki Rasmus, Deano Noto’s tribute to Billy Joel, Los Vega New York Italian Show Band, the Italian Continentals, the Magics, Gene Dempsey Orchestra, Paul LaBelle’s Exact Change, country recording artist Dani-Elle plus many others including jugglers, magicians, street acts, cooking demonstrations, favorite local bands and dance groups.
The annual Mass in Italian will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, in St. Peter’s Cathedral, located one block from the festival site. Reverend David Cappelloni, La Festa chaplain, will be the principal celebrant. The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton, will preside and give the homily. The Mass will also be televised live by CTV, Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. Fireworks will be displayed on Sunday night.
A new tradition will also continue this year. While Coney Island has its hot dog eating contest, and Philadelphia is the site for Wing Bowl, La Festa will crown a Cannoli Eating Champion. The contest will take place at 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 7 in front of the main stage.
In celebration of La Festa Italiana’s 40th year and the City of Scranton’s 150th birthday, two local yoga studios are hosting special events to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center. On the festival’s opening night, Friday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m., Jaya Yoga Studio is holding “Glowga On The Square,” a one-hour event—taught with glow sticks—on the grass near the fountains on the North Washington Ave. side of the Square. Then on Saturday, Sept. 5, Mind Body Spirit Co-op will lead a session at 11 a.m. on the grass. Participants are asked to meet in front of the stage on Linden St. on Courthouse Square.
For both events, all levels and children are welcome. Recommended donation is $10 per person. All proceeds will go to the Children’s Advocacy Center. Checks should be made out to La Festa Italiana; credit cards also accepted. Participants for both events are asked to register at the merchandise tent on North Washington Ave.
For more information and the complete entertainment schedule, visit www.lafestaitaliana.org.
La Festa Italiana will literally hit the ground running with the James R. Minicozzi Memorial 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Sept. 5. The race is being sponsored by the Scranton Chapter of UNICO, the Italian-American service organization, and proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Pre-registration for the race must be received by Aug. 27 by contacting Jack Trapani at (570) 878-3780 or email@example.com by or sending the $20 entrance fee by check made out to UNICO National Scranton Chapter, P.O. Box 278, Dunmore, PA 18512. Registration will also be accepted the day of the race from 8-9:30 a.m.
Festival patrons are also invited to Lackawanna Railfest ’15, hosted by the nearby Steamtown National Historic Site Sept. 5-6. Shuttle transportation will be provided between La Festa and Steamtown. For details on Railfest, visit www.nps.gov/stea.