Taste of Polonia Celebrates Polish Culture and Chicago's Polish-American Community examiner.com September 4, 2009
Every Labor Day weekend, thousands of people from all across Chicagoland flock to the Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center to attend the Taste of Polonia. Now entering its 30th year, this annual celebration of Polish culture has become one of the biggest events in Chicago's Polish-American community and the Northwest Side in general.
The festival was created by the Copernicus Foundation, a Chicago Polish-American organization, in order to raise money for their programs. As the city's Polish community changed and evolved, the festival continued to attract more and more visitors, becoming one of Chicago's most prominent Polish-American events. To Polish-Americans, the festival is an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and their culture, while Americans of other ethnicities get some sense of what the Polish culture has to offer.
As the name implies, food is a big part of Taste of Polonia. Visitors can choose from a variety of vendors that offer traditional Polish cuisine or and the more contemporary American food. This includes Polish food staples such as pierogi, Polish sausages and potato pancakes. It also hosts many vendors that offer Polish and Polish-American merchandise.
Taste of Polonia plays host to a number of performances. This year, three stages have been set up across the parade grounds. The programming schedule shows a carefully balanced mix of Polish performers and local bands. Bands such as Vesolovsky and the Marszalek Chicago Band bridge the gap between the two. Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center's theater plays host to the more traditional acts that include Polinia Dancers, a local Polish folk dancing ensemble, and Paredewki Symphony Orchestra, a Chicago-based classical orchestra dedicated to promoting and preserving Polish music. Families can take part in games and activities set up on the kids' stage.
Taste of Polonia opens Friday, September 4th, running from 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM. But the festival doesn't really kick into full gear until the Labor Day weekend. During that time, it runs from noon to 11:00 PM. The standard festival admission fee is $6.00. Senior citizen only have to pay $3.00, and students who show their college IDs can get in for free.
Taste of Polonia is located near Jefferson Park Transit Center, one of Northwest Side's biggest transit hubs. It incorporates a Metra's Union Pacific Northwest Line station and a CTA's Blue Line station. CTA bus routes #56, 56A, 68, 78, 81, 81W, 85, 85A, 88 and 91, and PACE bus routes # 226 and 270. Drivers can reach the festival by taking Kennedy Expressway to Exit 84. There is free parking at Wright Jr College (4300 N Narraganset Ave) and paid parking at the Veteran's Square building (4849 N Milwaukee Ave).
Ethnic Neighborhoods 101: Where Are Chicago's Polish Neighborhoods? examiner.com July 15, 2009
When Polish immigrants came to Chicago, they settled wherever the work was, moving into neighborhoods near factories, transportation facilities and industrial areas in general. The biggest Polish community emerged on the Northwest Side, around the three-way intersection between Ashland Avenue, Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue. As the Polish community expanded northwest along Milwaukee Avenue, into Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square, the intersection remained its political, economic and cultural center. For the first half of the 20th century, Poles and non-Poles alike called it the Polish Triangle or the Polish Downtown.
These days, the Polish Triangle doesn't look all that Polish anymore. There are still a few Polish-American businesses here and there, and local churches still hold services in Polish, but most of the neighborhood changed with its population. Today, Mexican, Puerto Rican and African-American businesses share the streets with art galleries, boutiques and upscale restaurants. One of the area's most notable remnants of the original Polish community is the Polish Museum of America (984 N Milwaukee Ave). Established in 1935, it focuses on Polish history and Polish-American art.
Copernicus Cultural and Civic CenterBut Chicago's Polish community didn't vanish – it simply moved further up Milwaukee Avenue. In Avondale, the Polish shopping district endures even as the neighborhood' s ethnic composition becomes less Polish and more Mexican. There, visitors can eat Polish food, buy Polish groceries, drink Polish beer, listen to Polish music and find the latest Polish DVDs and books. Looking further northwest, Irving Park, Portage Park, Jefferson Park and Norwood Park still have Polish majorities and it's streets, particularly Milwaukee Avenue, are dotted with Polish restaurants and stores. Many local legal agencies and clinics are either completely Polish or at least have someone on the staff who knows Polish, and bilingual signs abound throughout.
Jefferson Park in particular has become the cultural center of Chicago's Polish community. Taste of Polonia is held there every Labor Day weekend, offering Polish food and craft, music and dance performances. Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center (5216 W. Lawrence Ave) holds Polish film screenings and other Polish cultural events throughout the year.
Outside the Northwest Side, Poles are mostly found on Chicago's southern and southwestern outskirts. There are large Polish communities in Archer Heights and Garfield Ridge. Most of the Polish businesses line the Archer Avenue, which passes through both neighborhoods. There is also a sizable Polish community in Hegewisch, a neighborhood right on the city's southeastern edge. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much in a way of Polish institutions. It is also hard to reach - ailroads and decaying industries surround Hegewisch on all sizes, and most roads stop just short of it's borders.
We have a new Internet-based community building tool called the Polish Washington calendar.
What is the Polish Washington calendar?
It is an online listing of Polish or Poland-related events in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding suburbs. You can view the calendar week by week, month by month or as a list of events.
Where is the calendar displayed?
On the Internet. In fact, the calendar can be viewed at multiple places on the Web. If you want to view the full-screen version of the calendar, you can point your browser to the following hard-to-remember address (or, perhaps, add the following address to your bookmarks):
Other local Polish groups are more than welcome to embed the same calendar on their websites. Of course, each group can still maintain a calendars of only its own events, on a separate page of the same website, if needed. (If you need the one line that you need to embed the calendar on your website, examine the source code of the pages listed above. It's free!)
This new calendar is based on Google Calendar. If you are already a user of Google Calendar, you can add the Polish Washington calendar to your list of Other Calendars and easily import event information from the Polish Washington calendar to your personal Google Calendar. If you are a Google Calendar user, you can add the Polish Washington calendar under Other Calendars > Add > Add by URL and pasting the following strange string of characters:
I don't know exactly how it works, but it works. Try it! As a matter of fact, if you are a Google Calendar user, you can probably even configure the Polish Washington calendar to send event announcements to your cell as text messages (SMSs). I am not there yet, but if you are a true Polish event addict, you may want to consider this option.
Who will post events to the calendar?
The calendar is edited collaboratively by a group of contributors, mostly volunteers, from various local Polish groups or institutions. If you are interested in contributing, you are invited to join the group and add more events on behalf of your favorite Polish organization. There are still a number of local Polish groups out there which do not have an assigned event poster yet. To gain posting rights, please send an email to marcin@zmudzki. net and say which group or institution you want to represent. Thank you in advance! This invitation is meant especially for those of you who have not been actively involved in the local Polish community. You have been lurking and now is your chance to plunge in and become an active participant. Some community leaders from the typewriter generation could really use your help with this.
Who is in charge of the calendar?
Nobody, really. We are one big commune and we share lovers and everything. Just kidding! (I regained your attention, didn't I? Technically, "yours truly" is in charge, in the sense that I can add persons who will have the right to add and modify event information on the Polish Washington calendar, but in reality, if the calendar contributors do not like the way I run the calendar, any one of them is free to create an identical calendar and sway others to start contributing to his or her Polish Washingtonian calendar instead. In other words, the administrative role is associated with minimal power and the success of this new endeavor will depend mainly on the good will and cooperative community spirit of all contributors.
Why are we doing this?
Besides the obvious reason, which is to promote Polish events in this -- pretty important -- town, we also want to help avoid avoidable conflicts of schedule. If you know of an up-coming Polish event, quickly have it added to the Polish Washington calendar online, to at least give other organizers a chance to see that the given date may not be perfect for other Polish events. That said, there will be days, as there have been in the past, when there will be two or more Polish events in Washington. We don't all like the same things and, as certain people from a certain country east of Poland used to say, you can't drink ALL the vodka.
Weren't there other online calendars of Polish events in the DC area?
Yes, there were, at least three. You may recall that a couple years ago (how many years has it been?), we had a calendar of Washingtonian events on the polorg.com website. The nice thing about that calendar was that our events were automatically integrated with Polonian events from other U.S. cities, and the result was one big Polonian calendar. However, polorg.com apparently went under and its remains were assimilated by the Polish American Congress. The website at polorg.com shows an announcement that says that things might be coming back to life there, but I am not holding my breath. If polorg.com becomes active again, we can reconsider our Google Calendar. The great advantage of Google Calendar is that it is free, we don't have to pay any developers for maintaining it and the chances are very high that Google will be around for a while.
You may recall that we also used Yahoo! Calendar a few years ago. That calendar is still there. For example, go to the following address for events information from September 2003:
Basically, Yahoo! Calendar is okay, but I am willing to give Google a try because I like Google's collaborative and information sharing features more. By the way, great thanks to Przemek Klosowski for recommending Google Calendar to me. (Yes, the same Przemek who represented the Donosy email newsletter, when Donosy were the best source of up-to-date news from Poland about the unbelievable transformations happening there. Ooops, I'm showing my age.
Finally, veteran readers of my announcements may remember my very simple, online Polish DC Events listing, which I used to publish many years ago. That was based on my AOL hosting account and I edited the individual pages using... Microsoft Word. It worked! That calendar has disappeared for good, along with the rest of AOL Hometown portal, apparently.
Anyway, I like living in 2009 and using the new Polish Washington calendar. I hope you will, too.
Remember, if you feel like joining the ***elite*** crew of Polish Washington calendarists, just drop me a line at marcin@zmudzki. net. Great thanks to Ania Buczkowska, Adam Duda, Marta Gospodarczyk, Kaska Kisztelinska, Paulina Migalska and Ted Mirecki for entering the first few events already!
By DON LEHMAN Glen Falls (NY) PostStar Tuesday, September 8, 2009
THURMAN -- Use of a remote resort by a "swingers club" has upset residents and prompted town officials to check whether any laws are being broken by the group.
The Lake George Social Club, which bills itself as an "adult social club ... for sexually open-minded people," has been hosting parties at the former Northwoods Lodge on Bear Pond Road since the spring, according to the club's Web site.
Town Supervisor Lawrence "Red" Pitkin said his office received complaints from residents about the lodge being used for the parties, although he said no specific complaints have been made about noise or other quality-of-life issues.
"There are some people who are not too happy about it," he said. "We've gotten all kinds of complaints."
He said town officials are looking into whether the club's use of the property is violating any local or state laws. That inquiry has just begun, and with the town's limited zoning laws, it was unclear what violations, if any, could be found, he said.
"My biggest concern is when I look at their Web site. I'd be concerned with what kind of people they'd be drawing there," Pitkin said.
The Web site shows the back of a woman wearing just boots and thong-style underwear.
Among the complainants was a Thurman woman who contacted The Post-Star on Tuesday concerned about having "swingers" in the area while her grandchildren were visiting her nearby home.
The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said her family is considering selling the home if the club continues to use the property.
The lodge, now known as Bear Pond Lodge, includes a restaurant and motel. It is owned by Jan Kosz, a local businessman who runs A Taste of Poland restaurant in Lake George.
Contacted on Tuesday, Kosz said he was not aware of any concerns about the club's use of the lodge.
He said he has rented the property to the club on several occasions during the business' off-season.
He said the lodge is used to host Polish travel groups during the summer. Kosz said the social club's parties have been private, and the lodge is not open to the public when they have occurred.
Kosz said that, if he had been aware of concerns about the club's use of the property, he would have refused to rent to the club. He said the closest home to the lodge is a half-mile away.
"I rent the place to them. I don't run a swingers' club," he said. "It's totally private parties; what they do in their rooms is their business. But if it's a problem, I can stop it."
He said he would contact Pitkin and said he contacted the club's director later Tuesday to ask him to take references to the lodge off the club's Web site.
A man who answered a cell phone listed on the club's Web site said the club's activities are "very discreet" and "private."
He would not give his name and said he was not aware of any complaints about the parties.
"We don't bother anybody," he said. "People have got nothing better to do than bother us?"
Attendees enjoy music, rides -- but the food is the main event
By IRA PORTER The News Journal
Kids reeled on rides and two bands played Tuesday night serenading festival-goers dancing in the parking area at Frawley Stadium on Wilmington's Riverfront.
It was good fun on a warm late-summer night. But the star of the show was the food at the 53rd annual Polish Festival.
Two long lines snaked from under tents to the festival entrance gates as folks waited for golabki, pierogi, sauerkraut, kielbasa, chrusciki and placki -- fare many had waited a long year to taste once more.
"We wanted to get food first," said Marta Hnatkowsky, dabbing at sour cream at the side of her mouth as she and her husband, Adrian, cut up placki -- potato pancakes. "We skipped dinner at home to come here."
The Hnatkowskys live in New Castle but are originally from the Ukraine. They said they come to the festival every year on multiple days. They're drawn by the food, which they said they have tried to make at home, but also by the chance to see Polish relics and listen to music.
Thousands of people are expected to visit the festival through its Saturday close. Last year, the festival drew 30,000-35,000 and organizers hope to at least match that number this year.
"Our goal is to make one dollar more than we made last year," said organizer Steve Burg.
All the money raised will go toward restoring the twin spires on St. Hedwig's Church in Wilmington. In past years, the festival's funds went to St. Hedwig's school, which closed in 2007.
The festival started Monday and will run from 5 to 10 p.m. through Thursday; from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday and from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Saturday will be St. Hedwig's Alumni Night.
Dave Hasson and his girlfriend Courtney Petchel, both 24, came from Chadds Ford, Pa., Tuesday night. Hasson came after repeatedly hearing from Petchel how nice it was.
"I go to all of the festivals. I got to the Greek festival, Italian festival, and now I'm at the Polish Festival. I'm not even Polish," Petchel said with a laugh.
The couple waited in line for pierogi, which are boiled dumplings filled with multiple ingredients such as cheese and meats.
"I don't know how to make Polish food, so I come here and people make it for me," Petchel said. "How awesome."
Vendors Ed and Danuta Wilkosz, from Delaware County, Pa., were a big hit with red and white T-shirts with Polish phrases.
"This is good for the younger generation," Ed said. "They might have grown up hearing their grandmothers speaking the language, but they don't speak it."
IF YOU GO
WHEN: Today and Thursday, 5-10 p.m.
Friday, 5-11 p.m.
Saturday, 4-11 p.m.
WHERE: The Riverfront, Wilmington, near Frawley Stadium
COST: Free parking, admission and entertainment
The News Journal/WILLIAM BRETZGER
Christian Zwickert of Wilmington dances with his daughter Avery, 4, to traditional Polish music Tuesday. BITS AND BITES
Golabki: Savory stuffed cabbage rolls with seasoned meat and rice, braised in sauce .
Pierogi: Tender half-moon dumplings, often filled with potato and cheese or meat and vegetable mixtures.
Sauerkraut: The tart, salty cabbage relish we all know, a must with kielbasa.
Kielbasa: Polish sausage.
Chrusciki: Sweet, crispy bowties of fried dough, dusted with powdered sugar. Americans know these as "angel wings."
Anthony Opechowski, 3, of Wilmington enjoys a potato pancake Tuesday evening. He attended the festival with his mother, Agata, a native of Poland.
The News Journal/WILLIAM BRETZGER
The News Journal/WILLIAM BRETZGER
Attendees to the Polish Festival on Tuesday line up for the kielbasa, borscht, pierogi and other Polish favorites in one of two food and drink tents.
Keepers of the faith Windows from a bygone Catholic church and other relics find a safe haven By Jay Tokasz The Buffalo News September 26, 2009
A Buffalo museum founded last year to preserve art and artifacts from area religious groups has made its biggest acquisition to date. More than 30 stained-glass windows from the former Queen of Peace Catholic Church on Genesee Street are now part of the growing collection of the Buffalo Religious Arts Center, which is housed in another former Catholic church on East Street near Amherst Street in Black Rock.
The center also recently received word that its home building, the former St. Francis Xavier Church, completed in 1913, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Removing the ornate windows properly from Queen of Peace took months. The former church, which was sold in April to a Muslim group, now functions as a mosque and community center, and the windows depicting a variety of Christian imagery and Catholic saints were considered inappropriate.
So the Muslim group brokered a three-way deal with the Buffalo Religious Arts Center and church restorationist Henry Swiatek, who spent several weeks on the project.
"They're in good hands now," Swiatek said.
"These windows are of extremely high quality. Surprisingly, they were in very good condition. Some of them were in excellent condition."
Most of the windows, crafted by Buffalo glassmaker Leo Frohe, eventually will be displayed at the center, which is still in an acquisition phase.
So far, the center has acquired more than 100 pieces of art from a dozen churches and a synagogue.
A few windows from Queen of Peace featuring Polish saints also have been installed in the chapel at Corpus Christi, a traditionally Polish Catholic church on the East Side.
"They really look like they belong here," said the Rev. Anzelm Chalupka, pastor.
Organizers of the Buffalo Religious Arts Center initially planned to lease or sell a three-story, 33,000-square- foot school building next to the former St. Francis Xavier Church on East Street.
Now, they figure the school is large enough for them to rent some space for income and still have enough room for displays of stained glass. A full renovation of the school, however, is expected to cost about $3 million.
The historic designation of the basilica-style church, built in 1913, and its accompanying buildings, will help the center get access to more grant opportunities.
In addition to artwork, the center has started collecting vintage photographs of religious celebrations, such as weddings, baptisms and First Communions, church anniversary books and rosaries.
"Each and every church has a history," said Mary Holland, executive director of the center. "It's not only a museum of artwork, it's also about history."
Embassy officials: Polish princess headed for Utica is a fake advertisement By JENNIFER BOGDAN Observer-Dispatch Posted Nov 16, 2009 @ 10:19 PM ALBANY —
If you had hopes of being knighted by the Polish princess thought to be headed to Utica, you may end up disappointed.
Diana Lenska, who claimed to be descendent of Polish royalty and recently co-purchased a Genesee Street property, is a fake, according to the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C.
“For sure, she’s not a princess,” said Kristina Sikorska, a cultural division specialist for the embassy. “For sure, she has no aristocratic relations with Polish families.”
The Royal Order of the Kingdom of Poland — which is based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. and run by Lenska — recently co-purchased 294 Genesee St. with plans to establish a “cultural embassy” at the site, according to city officials. Lenska did not return messages left Monday at her Rhinebeck business or her cell phone.
City Urban and Economic Development Commissioner Robert Sullivan said hearing that Lenska may not be who she claimed to be raises concerns. However, Sullivan said he believed Lenska’s intentions for the property are “good.”
“Is she a princess, is she not a princess? I can’t say. I didn’t do any research,” Sullivan said. “Diana Lenska, the individual, invested in our community and plans to do whatever she’s going to do, and we’re happy with that.”
Lenska claims to be descended from Marie Leszinska, a Polish princess who married Louis the XV in 1725 and became queen of France, according to the royal order’s MySpace page.
Despite claims made on the MySpace page that Lenska has met with a Polish ambassador and other high-ranking Polish officials, Sikorska said there are no records of Lenska meeting with Polish Ambassador Robert Kupiecki or any other officials from the embassy.
Sullivan had said he believed Lenska, who told officials she was a Polish princess, planned to conduct cultural activities and knight people at the Genesee Street location.
“Steeped within the history and traditions of monarchy, the embassy will host balls, concerts, investitures, musicals, art exhibits, official functions within the etiquette and protocol of the 18-19th century,” the MySpace page reads. “The cultural embassy will also serve as a royal bed and breakfast for visiting knights.”
The Genesee Street property, which was purchased for $202,000 from the John H. Kane and Rosalie D. Kane Revocable Trust, was used for years as the headquarters of the Catholic Women’s Club.
A Better Tomorrow Limited, a Hong Kong-based investor, also is on the deed for the building.
Church shuts door, but hearts are open By Jennifer Huberdeau New England Newspapers Tuesday, Oct. 06
ADAMS, MA - A small group of parishioners solemnly stood on the steps of St. Stanislaus Kostka church holding signs, candles and an altar cross Monday afternoon as a funeral procession for long-time communicant Victoria Mendel drove past the church on its way to the parish cemetery. Mendel's adult son, Tracy, wiped tears from his eyes as the funeral limousine paused briefly to allow the family to look at the church's lit interior and the signs reading "St. Stan's Says Rest in Peace Victoria."
"It's the least we can do," Henry ' Hank' Tomkowicz, a life-long parishioner, said Monday.
"Victoria was 92 and attended this church most of her life. When the church was closed last December, we were no longer able to have funerals here. Some of our members have attended this church for 50, 60 or 70 years. They no longer are able to have their last Mass here before taking the final trip to the cemetery."
Vigil members began honoring the wishes of their deceased brethren in July, when the family of Roman Armata asked if the doors to the church could be opened when the funeral procession went past.
"Our father was 93 years old when he died in July," Barbara Armata said Monday as she waited amongst the group on the church steps. "He was a life-long member and his mother was one of the founding members of the church. It was hard to know that he couldn't be buried out of the only church he'd ever gone to. I don't think he'd ever attended the other churches - you just didn't do that in his day."
She said the family "was blown away" the day of the funeral when they say two dozen people holding signs outside the church.
"We anticipated just the side door being open with a light on," Armata said. "It was just amazing to see all these people outside the church, with all the front doors open and the lights on. It was like they were granting our dad's final wish."
Tomkowicz said Monday's procession was the fourth time the vigil members opened the church's doors for a funeral.
"We've done it at the request of the families," he said. "Hopefully people see this as something we are doing to support our parishioners and our church, which we hope to reopen someday."
Some 200 parishioners have kept vigil at the church since Dec. 26, 2008, a few days prior to its official closing by the Diocese of Springfield. The group appealed the diocese's decision to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican in Rome and anticipates a ruling in November.
"This is just one of the things we're doing to show support and solidarity," Tomkowicz said. "We had a group that sent about 90 preemie bonnets and blankets to a hospital in Springfield. We have another group that is making blankets for a poor community in Kentucky. We also have the rosary four times a week here."
In addition, the group also has a meeting every Monday night to discuss the current status of the appeal, he said.
'Big Joe Polka Show' brings in 30 bands for festival By Mark Sommer The Buffalo News October 03, 2009
As three gleaming accordions tapped out a spunky, polka rhythm Friday, 30 senior citizens moved about the dance floor in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center under the watchful gaze of legendary "Big Joe" Siedlik.
The band, Magic Buttons, from Willoughby, Ohio, was one of more than 30 polka acts slated to play the four-day polka fest being taped for later airing on "The Big Joe Polka Show," the genre's longest running and most popular program, found locally on Direct TV, the Dish Network and soon, Time-Warner Cable.
"The reason why I'm here is you have so many great polka bands in this area compared to any area of the country," Siedlik, who's based in Omaha, Neb., said during a lull in his between-act stage patter while the Karl Lukitsch Band tuned up.
People from out of state made up the majority of the more than 200 people during the early afternoon who paid the $17.50 entrance charge to see the one-hour sets. But local polka musician Robin Pegg of Derby, who named Buffalo along with Chicago and Cleveland as the three centers of polka music, expects more Western New Yorkers to attend today and Sunday.
"The polka people will be out [today] and Sunday for sure. You'll see a lot of younger folks, and younger bands, too," Pegg said.
Among local groups -- which Pegg said tend to play a slower, "Chicago-style" polka -- Buffalo Touch and Tony's Polka Band performed Thursday, and Scrubby, formerly of the Dynatones, was scheduled to play Friday night. Today, though, is the big day for Buffalo polka acts.
Cityside Band is due to perform at 1 p.m., followed by the Knewz at 2 p.m., the Concertina All-Stars at 4 p.m., Phocus at 5 p.m. and a "surprise" pairing of Buffalo musicians at 6 p.m.
On Sunday, the Stephanie Honky Band takes the stage at 6 p.m., followed by Phocus at 7.
Multiple, two- to three-song segments of each band are expected to appear on "The Big Joe Polka Show" starting in December.
Van and Martha Jewell of Andover, Ohio, were among the many out-of-town die-hard polka enthusiasts who made the trek to Buffalo for the polka fest.
"We're up for all four days -- we're fools for punishment," joked Van Jewell. The couple is celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary.
"We met polka dancing, and we've been dancing ever since," Martha Jewell said.
Jim and Norma Burgio of Corning also met polka dancing, more than a half century ago.
"I met my husband at the Polish-American Club in Rochester, N.Y.," Norma Burgio said. "He came up and asked me to dance, didn't even know how to do the polka, but I thought that was great of him. We wound up dancing and dancing, and eventually married."
Added Jim Burgio: "We love polka so much that we dance it several times a week sometimes. It keeps us young."
Burgio expressed concern that young people are not seeking out polka music.
"They don't really care for that type of dancing, and unfortunately we're not getting new people into polka-ing," he said.
Randy and Norrie Slater arrived from Belding, Mich., with about 70 others on a chartered bus to see local fave Virgil Baker and the Just-4-Fun Band. They sat several tables from fellow Midwesterners Jean, Joe and James Kroack of Waukon, Iowa.
Video: Friday's taping of "The Big Joe Polka Show"
Ed and Loyce Baum of Helena, Mont., said the polka fest was the sixth in a row they had flown to.
"Last night we were the last couple out the door, because [Tony's Polka Band] was so good we didn't want to sit down," Loyce Baum said.
Nearby, Barbara Peiser, who flew in from Fort Worth, Texas, shared laughs with Charlene Beck, who drove in from Duncan, Okla.
Peiser said her only regret on the trip was that it wasn't winter in Buffalo "so we could see some snow."
Thursday, December 10, 2009 7:30 pm (doors open 7pm) historic Berkeley Hillside Club (http://www.hillside club.org/) 2286 Cedar Street Berkeley, CA 94709 (510) 575-7514 or (510) 915-5613
Featured Artists Lowiczanie Polish Carolers Ukrainian Bay Area Carolers Dalmacijo Singers (Croatian) Lowiczanie Kapela (orchestra)
Soloists Dalyte Kodzis Anna Samborska
A gloriously varied collection of traditional carols that plumbs the rich traditions of East European Slavic folk and sacred holiday music, celebrating the sublime joy of the Christmas story. Vocals and instrumentals draw on the artistic talents of the Bay Area's Slavic communities.
Every ticket includes 1 complimentary glass of mulled wine or cider... Guests may purchase unique handmade Christmas gifts at the folklore boutique.
Tickets general: $15 advance / $18 door student: $8 door / $10 door children under 7 years: free
Advance sales: ckets.com/ event/90131 Seakor Deli, 5957 Geary Blvd, SF POLAM Federal Credit Union, Redwood City & Concord
Sponsored by: Lowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble of SF (http://www.polishfo lk.org/) Law offices of Kerosky & Associates POLAM Federal Credit Union Polish Consul General of Los Angeles
Polish city of angels film fest gets underway 21.04.2010 11:50
The eleventh Polish Film Festival has kicked off in Los Angeles.
The annual celebration of Polish cinema will feature screenings of up to 30 productions made in the country, including Jan Hryniak’s Trick and the recent Oscar-nominated documentary, Bartosz Konopko’s Rabbit à la Berlin.
The festival is overshadowed by the recent air crash in Smolensk, as the event was to be inaugurated by the late deputy speaker of the senate, Krystyna Bochenek, who died in the accident.
The organizers have decided to pay respects to all the 96 people who perished in the Smolensk air tragedy, by showing Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn, a film centered on the murder of up to 22,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest by the Soviet secret police in 1940. Many top state officials traveling to Smolensk onboard the plane were on their way to observances commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.
This year, participants of the festival will not have the chance to meet with Polish actors and film directors – a year-by-year highlight of the event. The guests from Poland have had to cancel their trips due air traffic disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash over Europe.
The festival is expected to draw an audience of 3,500, which is a reasonable outcome, considering the high competition in Los Angeles, which is currently hosting eight festivals, says head of the Polish Film Festival Waldemar Juszkiewicz. The event winds up on 2 May.
Polish Fable Wins Hemingway Award Staff journalist | 13th April 2010
This article has been read 577 times
A “fairy tale for grown-ups” that delves into post-communist Krakow has won the Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award for a debut novel
A Long, Long Time Ago, and Essentially True is the work of Brigid Pasulka, an Illinois-raised descendent of Polish immigrants. The book, which is framed around a pre-war love story set in the foothills of the Tatra mountains, interweaves the tales of two generations of the same family.
Pasulka explains that a year spent in Krakow in 1994 was the font of inspiration for her tale. She came to the city virtually by chance, and nearly fled in the first week after being struck down by illness. However, a fortuitous encounter led to an enduring friendship, and Pasulka remains a regular visitor, counting cafes such as Gołębia 3 amongst her favourite haunts - she penned part of the novel in that nook.
The author was presented with the prize on 28 March at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library. A paperback version of A Long, Long Time Ago, and Essentially True has just been published by Hodder and Stoughton.
A 2 year old artcile about changes in Polish Greenpoint in NYC.
From Polonia To Hotspot: A Less Ethnic Greenpoint The Old Country's influence declines in New York's most Polish neighborhood. By Stephen Nessen Monday, Apr 7, 2008
Anna Plucinski came to Greenpoint, Brooklyn as a young married woman three decades ago to escape the political regime in Poland. Today, she runs Aggie Agency on Nassau Avenue, one of many offices in the neighborhood that specialize in helping newly arrived immigrants to get settled in the city. But for the last three years, she says, far fewer emigres are seeking her services.
“On a good day we used to have 50 or 60 people opening the door. Now we are lucky to get 20 or 30. The phone is not ringing, it’s really dead,” Plucinski said last month.
Community leaders, residents and other businesspeople share her observation that fewer Poles populate traditionally, solidly Polish Greenpoint these days – a trend that dovetails with the area's gentrification generally. But on a walk down Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint’s main shopping street, you still see plenty of signs in Polish and a smattering of Polish specialty shops with kielbasas draped in the window and colorfully wrapped boxes of imported chocolates on display. Polish bakeries still churn out loaves of fresh bread piled in wicker baskets, and Polish restaurants, usually christened with the ubiquitous Polish flag (one solid white bar above one red bar) still serve pierogies and Polish beer.
Signs of Polish culture in the borough may drift away in years to come if the current decline continues, however. U.S. Census data shows that 35,382 people born in Poland lived in Brooklyn in 2000, 13,660 of whom lived in Greenpoint. The American Community Survey in 2006, a follow-up to the Census, yields no Greenpoint-specific number, but the Brooklyn-wide number had fallen to 21,605 – a six-year decrease of 39 percent.
“This is definitely a new chapter of the Polish immigrant story,” says Krzysztof W. Kasprzyk, the Polish consul general in New York. Fewer Poles are coming to America for several reasons, Kasprzyk says. The declining value of the U.S. dollar is one contributor. Also, as members of the European Union since 2004, Poles are now moving to England and Ireland for jobs. Working in Europe not only makes better economic sense, but it's also desirable because of fewer bureaucratic hassles. “Jobs in Europe are fully legal, workers get social security and medical insurance, and they don’t need a visa," he said. Plus, "they can also go back to Poland on the weekends.” ~ As Greenpoint attorney Romuald Magda puts it, referring to the Polish diaspora: “When Poland thrives, Polonia suffers." Magda, who is president of the local Pulaski Association of Business and Professional Men, came from Poland in the 1980s and says, “Twenty years ago everyone wanted to be an American, but this is no longer the case.”
Greenpoint's Polish character began in the late 1800s when immigrants began arriving there to work in the factories and docks along the East River. With its close proximity to Manhattan, Greenpoint quickly became a popular and affordable working-class neighborhood. In the 2000 Census, more than 213,447 residents in New York City claimed Polish ancestry (which is different than being Poland-born), making New York the second-largest Polonia in the U.S. outside of Chicago.
But according to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs, in 2007 immigrant visas for Polish to the U.S. hit a nine-year low – 3,278 were issued, down 57 percent from 7,613 in 2004.
In addition to an apparent decline in the number of Polish residents, Greenpoint also has been experiencing an influx of wealthier young urban professionals. The median sale price of an apartment in the neighborhood jumped by 65 percent – the largest margin in the city – between 2006 and 2007, according to the Real Estate Board of New York. In one high-profile deal, Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds – the real estate investment group of former basketball star Magic Johnson – last year sunk $12.4 million into a six-story building on Green Street.
Many longtime Greenpoint residents can’t afford the rising rents, and have already moved to newer Polish enclaves including Maspeth and Ridgewood in Queens, as well as Garfield, New Jersey. The Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union took notice, opening branches in each of these neighborhoods.
The credit union's vice president of marketing, Marian Ponanta, enjoys seeing the neighborhood's evolution. When he came to Greenpoint in 1982, the area was stigmatized as a backwater. "People used to think only losers stayed here," Ponanta said. But financial institutions like his "took chances and served a population no one else would loan money to,” and immigrants invested in construction and real estate.
"Everyone said one day this is going to be a big neighborhood. Well, lo and behold they were right," he says. ~ Bozena Kaminski, director and CEO of the Polish Slavic Center on Kent Street, came to Greenpoint a year after Polanta and also views recent changes as positive. She remembers when “people wouldn’t walk the streets at night, nobody cared about the appearance of things, there was drinking and drug abuse.” From the 1980s through mid-90s, the area was at its lowest point, Kaminski says.
Her job is to keep the Polish community vital, and she likes the attention Greenpoint is getting now. She thinks new businesses have helped improve the area.
“Before it was just a place where people worked, but didn’t want to spend time. After work you went other places. Now people actually want to come here,” she said. When Starbucks purchased the old Chopin movie theatre on Manhattan Avenue, local bodega owners bristled, but Kaminski saw it as a sign of progress. Her only objection is the proliferation of 99-cent stores on Manhattan Avenue.
One mild Saturday afternoon recently, two Greenpoint natives with Puerto Rican roots, 28-year-old Julio Teran and his friend Jerry Casldue, 29, were talking in front of Teran’s apartment on Franklin Street. They miss the neighborhood of their youth. The Latino-owned bodegas on Franklin now compete for space with trendy bars and clothing boutiques, converted factory spaces, and even a record store that carries vinyl LPs, all catering to a new class of professionals and artists who have flooded the area.
“People used to spend time outdoors until late at night, listening to music, and barbequing on the street. Now the police come and tell us to turn it down and go inside," Teran says. "That kind of thing never happened before. The new people are complaining a lot and this is how they’re trying to get rid of us."
Developers in the area are eager to renovate apartment buildings, particularly ones near the waterfront like Teran’s. He is now raising his own family here, and is worried about their future in Greenpoint. Although the area is cleaner and safer now, he says, that comes at a price – literally. "People are coming from Manhattan and paying Manhattan prices, but this isn’t Manhattan,” he says.
As rents rise and traditional businesses – like manufacturing – disappear, it's harder for the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center to afford its industrial support functions. "I can only imagine that in 10 years people will not recognize Greenpoint. It's not the working-class neighborhood it used to be," says native Brooklynite Brian T. Coleman, the center's CEO. "It's losing its ethnic flavor."
But Vincent Abate, the Italian-American chairman of local Community Board 1 for as long as anyone can remember, isn't nostalgic about days past. “They were a great asset to us and it’s a shame the numbers are dwindling,” Abate says of his Polish neighbors. But "these are good people coming in."
"Greenpoint now has more services than ever before. People used to have to go into Manhattan to get an MRI or a CAT scan, but these can all be done in Greenpoint now," he says. And he is enthusiastic about the variety of restaurants now in the area. "Everything I could want is within walking distance from my home: Japanese, Korean, Chinese food, so many restaurants that would never come here before. I even sold my car, because I don’t need to drive anymore... It’s progress."
Department of Homeland Security data show that as of Jan. 2008 some 12.6 million legal immigrants—people with permanent residency but not citizenship—were living in the United States. With 1.5 million, New York state ranked only behind California for number of legal immigrant residents. The New York City-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area saw 180,000 new legal immigrants in 2008, more than any other metro area and more than 10 percent of the total intake nationwide. Meanwhile, the population of undocumented immigrants in Jan. 2009 is estimated by DHS to be 10.8 million nationwide, with about half a million in New York state.
The Census Bureau's American Community Survey has this breakdown of where New Yorkers who reported a national origin (about half do) in 2006 through 2008 said they or their forebears came from:
Italian 596,478 Irish 305,772 American 228,905 Jamaican 218,097 Russian 209,955 Polish 169,700 German 158,359 Haitian 119,333 Guyanese 108,744 African 107,124 English 93,088 Greek 77,268 West Indian 73,425 Trinidadian and Tobagonian 73,206 European 66,329 Ukrainian 44,850 Eastern European 42,285 British West Indian 41,897 Hungarian 40,947 French (except Basque) 38,915 Albanian 35,038 Romanian 23,159 Scottish 22,832 Barbadian 22,427 Israeli 21,991 Nigerian 21,384 Ghanian 21,123 Austrian 20,048 Scotch-Irish 18,441 Egyptian 17,284 Other Subsaharan African 16,804 British 16,686 Turkish 15,081 Norwegian 14,203 Other Arab 13,688 Brazilian 13,388 Dutch 13,092 Arab 12,676 Yugoslavian 12,481 Swedish 11,652 Armenian 10,813 Portuguese 10,309 Lebanese 10,292 Croatian 10,152 Iranian 9,432 Czech 8,722 Moroccan 8,064 Afghan 7,975 Lithuanian 7,906 Syrian 7,867 Canadian 7,466 French Canadian 6,184 Serbian 5,436 Belizean 5,398 Swiss 5,358 Bulgarian 5,188 Welsh 5,009 Macedonian 4,835 Danish 4,671 Slovak 4,521 Czechoslovakian 4,205 Palestinian 4,039 Australian 3,726 Senegalese 3,246 Scandinavian 3,195 Maltese 3,136 Belgian 3,102 Northern European 2,979 Ethiopian 2,433 Latvian 2,274 Finnish 2,244 U.S. Virgin Islander 2,232 Liberian 2,176 Sierra Leonean 1,932 Slavic 1,858 Sudanese 1,657 South African 1,631 Jordanian 1,485 Estonian 1,208 Iraqi 1,131 Cypriot 1,100 Dutch West Indian 949 Slovene 911 Other West Indian 840 Icelander 759 Bahamian 741 Bermudan 645 Basque 586 Somalian 565 New Zealander 506 Cape Verdean 495 Celtic 481 Pennsylvania German 305 Soviet Union 297 Cajun 252 Kenyan 240 Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac 160 Zimbabwean 158 Luxemburger 92 Carpatho Rusyn 86 Alsatian 85 German Russian 75 Ugandan 62
From Monday 28 June to Friday 2 July CNN will be broadcasting a week of programmes on Poland’s political, business, cultural and sports scene.
Hosted by Fionnuala Sweeney, the World One current affairs programme will be broadcast live from Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw.
The programme will look at the aftermath of the Smolensk tragedy, how Poland is preparing for its six-month presidency of the EU next year and how infrastructure and other projects are developing ahead of the Euro 2012 championship.
The story of modern Poland is reverberating onto the broader world stage politically, socio-economically, culturally and in the sporting arena,” says Mike McCarthy, vice president of coverage and feature programming for CNN International.
The broadcasts will also be examining cultural developments in the country, particularly events surrounding Chopin Year, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Poland most famous classical composer.