Clouds and cool temperatures did not stop over 6,000 people from turning out at the Little Poland Festival, presented by the Polonia Business Association, on Broad St. Sunday.
“I am totally pleased with the turnout. The response from the community was terrific,” said Lucian Pawlak, event organizer. “There is nothing we can do about the weather.”
Over 50 vendors from across the area, folklore dancers, bands, shows, arts & crafts, Polish products, children’s attractions, rides and more were scattered throughout the area.
“I’m so glad it went forward and we could pull it off in a short time, but that is the kind of community we live in,” said Pawlak. “It was shoulder to shoulder for awhile.”
Pawlak said it was a lot of little touches like having the Joe Rodgers Band at the bottom of the street and not at the main stage that made the event special.
“People drifted down and that is where we had several events,” said Pawlak.
The Pulaski Club Carnival was also new this year and attracted children. A CTFastrak bus, as well as fire engines were available to the public for viewing.
Several dancing clubs and singers who performed, such as the Paderewski Choir, were also performing across the state as various Polish communities were holding events to honor the canonization of Pope John Paul II.
“Can you imagine if the entire state had turned out and all these other celebrations weren’t going on?” said Pawlak. “I worked with two young women who did all the organization and deserve a lot of credit.”
Mila Chorosz and Natalia Kolakowski supported Pawlak with spreadsheets and assigning spaces and much more.
“They helped make it all easy,” Pawlak said.
Originally costs were at $12,000 to get the event going and were brought down to about $5,000.
US Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Newscaster Ann Nyberg, and Cartoonist J. Timothy Quirk were officially made “A Little Polish”. Mayor Erin Stewart was Grand Marshal.
Stanley The Polish Dragon, a clown, Pierogi the Penguin, a Minion and Mike Wazowski the one eyed monster from Monsters Inc. walked around taking photos with the crowd.
Polish, German, Italian and American foods from golabki’s to lobster rolls were available for patrons.
Folk dance groups included Polish Stars (Polski Gwiazdki), Little Ambers (Burszykni) and the Polonie Sing and Dance Group.
The first Little Poland Cutie Contest contest for girls 4-12 years old was held and a Paczki Eating contest took place. Paul Madej took home the victory in the Paczki Eating Contest. Winners of the Little Poland Cutie Contest for boys and girls were Julia Trzeciak and Alec Gedeloff.
“When I was at the bottom near High Street and Broad Street and was looking up and I saw people walking sideways – that brought a smile to my face,” said Pawlak. “That is what you want to see.”