Polish fest highlights a corner of Dorchester culture

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/05/02/polish-fest-highlights-a-corner-of-dorchester-culture/

BOSTON – Rainy weather Sunday failed to put a damper on the second annual Polish Festival celebration in Boston, as churchgoers streamed out of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Dorchester, some in traditional Polish garb and others waving Polish flags to march a few blocks to the Polish American Citizens Club.

The festivities took place there in the heart of the Polish Triangle, in an event designed to educate both the Polish community about their heritage and to share the culture with everyone who attended. The air quickly filled with savory smells from tents serving out traditional food including perogies, potato pancakes, sausages, stews and pastries.

Performances from the Dancers of Boston and Children’s Choir as well as a polka band enlivened the affair while a collection of Polish Hussars, dressed in traditional fighting gear, brought some of the eastern European nation’s cultural history to life.

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“We thought there was a vacuum there that needed to be filled,” said Steven Wychorski, a spokesman for the Polish American Congress of Eastern Massachusetts, which hosted the event.

“Polish culture is American culture,” Wychorski said, adding that his organization hopes that the annual festival will help give the community a greater voice in the hub. He noted that the there are similar ethnically oriented events each year in the North End, Chinatown and South Boston, bringing people together from around the city.

The festival was scheduled near the May 3 Polish Constitution Day, which celebrates the importance one of Poland’s biggest steps toward independence. But the progress was short-lived as the Russo-Polish War of 1792 ended when the Polish king agreed to join a Russian federation.

On Tuesday, Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, who counts Poles in her ancestry, will raise the nation’s flag at noon on City Hall Plaza to celebrate the special day in Polish history.

“I want to share all our Polish pride with all the people in Boston,” she said.

Polish ham producer Krakus, the official sponsor of the festival, donated $10,000 to the organizing Congress to help its work restoring Pulaski Park, located next to the club. Wychorski said his group began fixing it up last year.

“We actually have a little bit of an oasis right in the Polish Triangle,” he said. But he said another $5,000 is still needed to reach a fundraising goal for the project.

For George Reed, a special education teacher from Hartford, Connecticut, the festival offered a teaching opportunity. Dressed in the full armor of a 17th century Winged Hussar, he said there’s no better way to teach history than to engage all the senses and have fun while learning where you come from and helping others to grasp that culture.

“That’s the point,” said Reed, who said he is half Irish and half Polish. To preserve a cultural heritage, he said, “you have to teach it. Otherwise it won’t get passed down.”

For Arty Przychodzki, who joined the Dorchester club two years to take advantage of a couple of free beverages, the organization brought him into a community he once pushed aside.

“Now it means a lot to me,” Przychodzki said. “It feels awesome to show Boston that Polish heritage is alive and it’s growing and growing each year.”