By Dan Stokes, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Just like America, Wilkes-Barre is a melting pot of different races, cultures and peoples.
And Saturday’s second annual Multicultural Parade & Festival was a perfect illustration of that, according to several local officials.
“The day’s festivities showcase the different cultures in our area and how we all get along with one another,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George. “Wilkes-Barre is a melting pot. So many cultures are on hand today.”
George said the parade and festival grew significantly from last year’s inaugural edition.
“We have a lot more people this year,” he said. “I think it’s a big credit to the work we put in last year to grow this special day.”
Congressman Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, was downtown mingling with people along the parade route to show support for the area’s diversity.
“This is huge,” said Cartwright, who is running for re-election this fall. “It’s an affirmation that America is melting pot and that we embrace all backgrounds and cultures. It makes me proud to be an American.”
Cartwright also put the event into historical context. Even though it was only the second annual multicultural celebration, he said this area has been an example of how to assimilate peoples for more than a century.
“The statue of John Mitchell in Scranton is a symbol of how he brought all of the ethnic groups together in solidarity,” said Cartwright, referencing the famous labor leader and former president of the United Mine Workers of America.
“When I go to Washington, D.C., I tell everyone about our heritage and how our different cultures bring us all together,” he added.
‘Diversity very important’
Vanessa Yao, 21, is president of the Multicultural International Club at King’s College. She marched in the parade because she knew how important it was to participate.
“We put our best efforts forward in terms of community outreach,” Yao said. “It was a great opportunity to represent King’s and help express the diversity of different cultures to the community.
“Diversity is very important. It’s always great to learn new things from different cultures.”
Yao was impressed by the day’s turnout.
“Honestly, I was surprised at how many different cultural associations were on hand,” she said. “It’s very comforting to know that Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding areas are diverse.”
Just because Sandra Germosen and her children came late to the festivities, that didn’t prevent them from indulging in what the festival had to offer.
“There is a lot of great food,” said Germosen, of Wilkes-Barre. “It’s good to see a lot of people moving about. I think more people will come out every year to show their support.”
Germosen said she really enjoyed some of the costumes and dances that marchers showed off during the morning’s parade.