Local
8:46 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Dyngus Day celebration comes to downtown Buffalo

Buffalo's evolving love affair with Dyngus Day is a story in itself, with more celebrations emerging each year at bars, halls and restaurants throughout the area. This year, a Dyngus Day celebration that dates back over 50 years will be moving to a downtown location for the first time.

With the closing of the Hearthstone Manor in Cheektowaga, a legacy event has been forced to move. Retired Judge Ann Mikoll says her group chose the Adam's Mark Hotel for this year, adding to a history that includes several venues.

Retired Judge Ann Mikoll has been presiding over Dyngus Day celebrations for 54 years.
Retired Judge Ann Mikoll has been presiding over Dyngus Day celebrations for 54 years.
Credit Photo courtesy of WNED's Eileen Elibol

According to Mikoll, the event dates back "54 years, when my husband started it at the Chopin Singing Society. To begin with, it was sort of internal. We only celebrated amongst ourselves. But it became quite soon very popular so we opened it to the public, much to our astonishment."

Enthusiasm for Dyngus Day has spread, prompting organizers to alter plans and find more convenient locations.

"For many years we owned a property on Kosciuszko Street and that's where we held it," Mikoll said.

"I can remember one occasion when I was there for lunch, then I went back to work and I came in the evening and I looked at this long, long line trying to get into Kosciuszko Street. Jimmy Griffin was standing in the line waiting to get back in. So, I took him out of there and we went in and let the mayor preside."

Musician Ted Szymanski may understand the popularity of Dyngus Day better than most. He and his band, Special Delivery, will play at the Adam's Mark on Monday night AFTER playing at two other Dyngus Day celebrations earlier in the day.

"I play the accordion and the piano. There's five of us in the group. We're kind of an eclectic Polish group because we separate ourselves from other Polish groups," Szymanski said.

"We do a lot of Polish, but our motto is 'Everything from Ethnic to Alternative.'"
 

Toronto's White Eagle Dancers will perform on Dyngus Day at the Adam's Mark Hotel.
Toronto's White Eagle Dancers will perform on Dyngus Day at the Adam's Mark Hotel.
Credit Photo courtesy of WNED's Eileen Elibol

In honoring tradition, the White Eagle Dancers out of Toronto will perform at the Adam's Mark for a celebration that begins at noon with a blessing of the food by Father Czeslaw Krysa. Father Krysa is Director of the Worship Office of the Buffalo Diocese and rector at St. Casimir Church in Kaisertown.

"I have a priest/classmate of mine from Connecticut who comes down every single year to Buffalo because he just enjoys how much everybody is having such a neat time, everybody is, somehow. expressing their heritage," Krysa said.

"He calls it the Polish version of Mardi Gras."

Like most Dyngus Day celebrations, the Adam's Mark event promises music, dancing and plenty of traditional favorites.

Father Czeslaw Krysa blesses the food prior to the start of the Dyngus Day celebration.
Father Czeslaw Krysa blesses the food prior to the start of the Dyngus Day celebration.
Credit Photo courtesy of WNED's Eileen Elibol

"The traditional foods are there. The polish sausage. The wonderful hams. Eggs of all kinds, either stuffed or unstuffed. Other salads are presented. So, it's a very nice luncheon. And very nice deserts, as well," Mikoll said.

"Vodka is the drink of the season. It's very popular, of course, with the Buffalo people."

The Dyngus Day event at the Adam's Mark begins at noon on Monday. When does it end?

"Oh, two in the morning," Mikoll laughs.

"When they get tired and they don't want to dance any more, we'll quit, too."

On Dyngus Day, the party continues until "they don't want to dance anymore."
On Dyngus Day, the party continues until "they don't want to dance anymore."
Credit Photo courtesy of WNED's Eileen Elibol