October 7, 2002
By Marcin Szczepanski and Wojciech T. Mleczko
Nearly 100,000 people attended the 65th Pulaski Day
Parade, marching through the streets of Manhattan last Sunday. Polish
people like Ludwik Gil have been attending the parade every year
for the last 55 years. [Casimir Pulaski was a Polish hero of the
Revolutionary War, who was killed in the battle of Savannah in 1799.]
Sixty-two year old Ludwik Gil has marched ever since he was seven,
and for the last 47 years has worn a tail coat and a high hat during
the event. Gil, a teacher and a former council member in Passaic,
New Jersey, was the Grand Marshall in 1980 and last Sunday wore
the honorary Marshalls ribbon across his chest.
Frank Kowalinski, another parade veteran, first attended the event
in 1949. He missed only three parades over the last 53 years. "It
was when they sent me to fight in Korea," he said.
This years Grand Marshall Stanislaw Trojniak pales in comparison
to the two mentioned above, although this was his 17th
parade. He has been waiting to be the marchs leader for two
years, since the last years procession was cancelled due to
the September 11 attacks. Trojniak and his wife Maria live in Passaic
and always come to the event dressed as Gorals [people living in
the mountainous region in the southern Poland who are famous for
their unique attire and distinctive dialect].
Governor George Pataki has some experience as well when it comes
to marching in the Polish parade. He has participated for the last
two years, and in the past he had attended the Polish parades in
Buffalo. "Its an honor for me to be able to march in
the Polish parade. I am glad that the strength of the Polish community
in New York is growing," he told Nowy Dziennik on Sunday.
Among the honorary guests was another parade veteran Gienia Theresa
Zagorek, who sat on top of a red Cabriolet with a sign: Woman-Grand
Marshall of 1975 Parade.
Most people who marched on Sunday, however, have just begun practicing
in the tradition of representing Poland on the streets of New York.
This was the fourth parade for Piotr Habrzyk, the president of Polish
Students Organization in New York, and the second one for Piotr
Kszczot, an artist from New York Dance and Art Innovation, who has
exhibited three of his collages in the city.
The parade was also an important event for Polish students, artists,
scouts, war veterans, activists, and those who make up the diversified
Polish community in New York. For many it was a great opportunity
to meet with fellow countrymen and proudly march together along
the most famous avenue in New York.
The Day Before
On Saturday night preceding the parade, over a 1,000 people attended
a traditional mass in St. Patricks Cathedral, which began
with a performance by a group of Gorals and a group of Pulaskis
cadets. The participants were greeted by Archbishop of New York
Edward Egan and the Archbishop of Detroit Edmund Szoka, who is of
Polish descent and is fluent in the language of his parents.
A large number of Polish clergy working in the metropolitan area
of New York also attended the mass, which was directed by Father
Peter Zendzian. The members of the Pulaski Parade Committee occupied
the front pews, along with honorary guests like Police Commissioner
Raymond Kelly and the representative of the Polish Consulate Agnieszka
Magdziak-Miszewska. The excerpters from the Bible were read by Grand
Marshall Trojniak and former Marshall Jacob Krowicki.
Festival Singers, a choir directed by Janusz Sporek, and soloists
Halina Kalitka and Irena Jarocka performed during the nearly two-hour
long ceremonial mass.
Translated from Polish by Joanna Sufin
Back to The Citizen Page