WILKES-BARRE — One of the sure signs of early spring and the end of a recently harsh winter is the blossoming of cherry trees in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the start of outdoor festivals.
To celebrate nature’s annual ritual of colorful blossoms, the city of Wilkes-Barre on Saturday once again sponsored the 2014 Cherry Blossom Festival at Kirby Park. The event ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and will run again the same times today.
Enthusiastic festival-goers paraded into the event all day Saturday. Thousands are expected to walk through the park over the two-day event, and they will enjoy a plethora of entertainment and outdoor activities, according to city officials.
“The festival events promise to be endless family fun,” said Liza Prokop, community relations coordinator for the city. “The public needs to see what all the fun is about,” she said.
About 20 vendors set up their shops to showcase their crafts, food vendors offered a wide variety of fare to feed the masses and even amusement rides were operating to entertain “children of all ages,” she said.
Available tented seating allowed the festival to go on even when the weather did not cooperate a few times Saturday.
In conjunction with the festival the annual “Pirouettes in the Park” showcased professional dancers on Saturday. Broadway-bound Mark Stuart Dance Theatre along with performers from 18 local dance ensembles performed.
There were dancers of all ages and styles; some did ethnic step dances, others classical ballet. There were modern and jazz dancers as well as musical theater performers, Prokop said.
Sunday’s festival will focus more on musical entertainment. Seven local bands are scheduled to perform, providing a wide variety of modern, traditional and lively music.
Overall the festival organizers said they focused on activities for everyone.
“Throughout the weekend there will be food and crafts, face painting, caricatures, amusement rides, games, pony rides and a petting zoo,” Prokop said. “People are strongly encouraged to bring a blanket and lawn chair and spend the whole day in Kirby Park,” she said.
City officials are happy to offer two days of free, family-friendly entertainment, Prokop said.